I am really looking forward to this year’s RYOBI One Day Cup.
In an attempt to rationalise the domestic program and to give the competition a greater profile in an extremely busy summer, Cricket Australia has decided to play it as a stand-alone tournament in what was previously a quieter time on the Australian cricketing calendar.
With the majority of matches at North Sydney Oval and Bankstown Oval in a four-week period from late September, plus others at Blacktown, Drummoyne and Hurstville, we can look forward to an exciting start to the season.
Some of the international players will be available for the first few RYOBI Cup matches before the Australian team departs for India in early October for a series of seven ODI matches and one T20 International.
This will provide a wonderful opportunity for some of the emerging talent in Australia to get off to a flying start to the summer.
As much as we were all disappointed with the results in The Ashes campaign in England over the past few months, I think it is a really exciting time in Australian cricket.
The fact that we have a very strong bowling group emerging suggests that we will bounce back quite quickly to be a pack-leader once again.
What we need to see now is some of the batting talent that is simmering just below the surface, to break through and announce their arrival.
Having been involved with our youth cricket over the past five years, I am well aware that we do have talent that will take us back to the top of world cricket rankings.
Some of them will get a chance in the RYOBI Cup so it is hoped that a batch of the nextgen players will identify themselves forcefully during the competition and then carry it on in the early part of the Bupa Sheffield Shield season.
In this article, I will attempt to identify a few of the players that it will be worth keeping an eye out for.
New South Wales is rightly one of the powerhouses of Australian cricket.
With the biggest population and a network of strong regional areas it has provided Australia with some of its most exciting talent through the years.
Bradman and O’Reilly are two of the great names who grew up in NSW country and went on to become legends of the game.
It has been a steady progression of talent ever since with regional areas carrying more than their fair share of the weight with names such as Gilchrist, Taylor, McGrath and Slater all growing up in the bush.
The current crop of Australian players boast Haddin, Hughes and Lyon who all grew up in regional NSW and moving up quickly behind them are Josh Hazlewood, Scott Henry and Nic Maddinson.
Something is working well for the boys from the bush.
With Starc injured, the door could open up for Sean Abbott to get a concerted opportunity.
Abbott bowled well in conjunction with Hazlewood for the Australian U19 team which won the Youth World Cup in New Zealand in 2010.
Sean is a strongly-built fast bowler who has the ability to generate good pace.
He has been in the shadow of Hazlewood and Starc since emerging from the youth program, but is developing into a formidable cricketer.
Apart from his bowling, watch out for his explosive batting and exciting fielding. He may have the best throwing arm in Australian cricket at the moment.
Victoria has been the other great strength in Australian cricket. They are a very good team unit expertly coached by Greg Shipperd, who is our most experienced domestic coach. They will be one of the teams to watch in this tournament.
Apart from the experience of David Hussey and Rob Quiney, Victoria has a bunch of emerging players who are starting to assert themselves.
Aaron Finch has already announced himself on the international stage and along with Clint McKay and Glenn Maxwell, will be in India for the bulk of the RYOBI campaign, so some of the youngsters will get their chance to shine.
Those to look out for during this tournament will be Peter Handscomb, a promising batsman/wicketkeeper who impressed a lot of people with his batting last season.
Scott Boland, a fast bowler, performed well in last season’s RYOBI Cup and is looking even fitter and stronger while Marcus Stoinis is a promising all-rounder who broke into the Victorian team late last season.
He may well be a surprise packet in this tournament. Alexander Keath is another promising all-rounder who chose the more difficult route of cricket over AFL following his excellent Youth World Cup in 2010 and is on the verge of having a break-out season.
The one I will be watching is Jon Holland.
Jon is an exciting left arm orthodox spinner who has been around the Victorian squad for some time, but has had his appearances restricted by lack of opportunity and injury.
He may well have gone to India and England with the Australian team had a shoulder injury not made him unavailable and is only a few good performances away from being right back in calculations for international cricket and this will be a wonderful chance for him to shine.
Tasmania has punched above its weight in recent years.
Tim Coyle and George Bailey have developed a very professional program that has brought huge success.
Dan Marsh takes over as coach from Coyle who stepped down early this year after winning the Shield for the third time in seven seasons.
Marsh is another of the promising young coaches, along with Justin Langer, Trevor Bayliss and Stuart Law, who have taken over state programs recently.
Players to watch out for are;
Alex Doolan. Alex is an exquisite player with an ability to play classic cricket shots off both the front and back foot. His game has evolved well over the last few years and is a key player for Tasmania in both one day and four-day cricket.
Jon Wells. Jon developed consistency into his cricket last season and became an important member of Tasmania’s batting group. Jon has a highly developed game sense and bats really well depending on the state of the game. He is an excellent runner between wickets, and enjoys one day cricket.
Clive Rose. Due to the great depth of spin bowling in Victoria, Clive has recently made the move to Tasmania from Victoria in search of opportunity.
Clive is a highly skilled left-arm off-spinner with an excellent level of skill. He is also a more than handy middle/lower order batsman and very reliable fieldsman.
Along with Harry Allanby, he provides Tasmania with solid spin options along with Australian One Day bowler Xavier Doherty. Clive is an extremely team-oriented person, and has a great knowledge of his spin bowling craft.
Sam Rainbird. Sam is an improving left arm swing bowler. He has benefited from a couple of years in the Tiger’s program, with definite gains in both skill and strength due to the time he has dedicated to his game. Sam will do well if opportunity presents itself and has had a good pre-season.
The pick of the group is Jordan Silk. Jordan has benefited from a few experiences with Australia A in the off season.
He has the ability to bat anywhere in the top six due to his high level of skill.
He is one of the premier fieldsmen in the country and he works extremely hard at it. After a great beginning to his cricket career last season, Jordan will be looking to build on that with consistent performances in the RYOBI Cup this season.
The Redbacks have blooded a number of youngsters in the past year or so and I think we will see some of them start to make their mark this season.
Two of the keys to Redback success in the RYOBI Cup will be Kane Richardson and Travis Head who have emerged from the past two Youth World Cups and have had some success at the state level.
Richardson made his senior international debut in limited over cricket last summer and is poised to establish himself as a quality bowling all-rounder.
Travis is a left-hand bat in the mould of Darren Lehmann and also bowls very useful off-spin.
If he develops his batting to be in the Lehmann class, he will be a great asset for state and country.
One thing we do know though is that he spins the ball more than Boof ever did.
The two Alex’s, Ross and Carey, also threaten to make permanent places for themselves in the Redback side in both formats.
Alex Ross moved from Canberra two seasons ago and has impressed a lot of people with his poise and elegance while Alex Carey returned to cricket, having had a distinguished schoolboy career, following two years on the Greater Western Sydney AFL list.
Carey was a classy wicketkeeper batsman in youth cricket, but looks ready to make it as a batsman in senior cricket.
Adam Zampa, a young leg spinner from NSW, has traded places with Nathan Lyon for this season and will get plenty of opportunities in his new state. Adam bats and fields well and is a good competitor so he is another worth watching closely.
Western Australia will be without Mitchell Johnson and Adam Voges who will be in India with the Australian team and promising all-rounder Mitch Marsh who is injured.
This will give opportunities to some of the promising young players who have emerged from the youth program in the past 12 months or so.
Ashton Agar will be the headline act following his stunning Ashes debut.
Sadly, Ashton has been ill since he returned from England, but should be ready to go for the start of the RYOBI Cup.
He will be the one to watch as he puts into practice what he has learnt from the time he has spent with the Australian team.
Others to watch are Ashton Turner, a clever batsman who bowls useful off spin and Joel Paris.
Ashton was a standout in last year’s youth World Cup and made a stunning debut for the Warriors in the RYOBI Cup last season.
Joel also performed well in last year’s youth World Cup and has come on in leaps and bounds since.
He is a left-arm swing bowler who has good speed and a deceptive bouncer.
Tall and willowy, he will remind some of a young Bruce Reid. If he can match Bruce’s talent he will be a great asset for his state and his country.
Queensland will be hoping to defend the title which they won under Darren Lehmann.
Lehmann has moved up to higher honours and has been replaced by Stuart Law who led Queensland to their first Sheffield Shield victory as captain in 1995.
Emerging players to watch in the Bulls line-up are;
Chris Lynn is a very aggressive player who has performed particularly well in the short forms of the game. Chris is a fine striker of the ball who possesses the power to clear any boundary. He can be useful with his canny left arm orthodox spin and is one of the most exciting fielders in the competition.
Joe Burns is a classical right hand batsman who is held in high regard around the country. Joe can score quickly without looking like he is. He is another one of the emerging young players who fields well and I expect him to have a good RYOBI Cup.
Jason Floros is very promising all-rounder who is a potential match winner with either bat or ball. Jason is another of the talented graduates from the successful 2010 Youth World Cup squad. As an outstanding fielder, classy left-hand batsman and off-spin bowler, Jason is an exciting package for one day cricket.