‘See tomorrow’s stars today’ has long been the tagline associated with the JLT One-Day Cup, but it won’t just be Australia’s best young guns looking to make their mark in the 50-over competition ahead of a blockbuster Magellan Ashes summer.
Here are ten players to keep an eye on when Australia’s premier 50-over competition kicks off on Wednesday.
Cameron Bancroft (WA)
On the cusp of a Test debut before a security scare saw the cancellation of Australia’s tour of Bangladesh back in 2015, WA opener Cameron Bancroft is still waiting for his opportunity at Test level. However, after a disappointing 2016-17 season that saw the highly-rated batsman-keeper amass just 536 runs at 28.21 in the whites for Western Australia, the right-hander again missed out on an opportunity to impress selectors following Australia A’s boycotted tour of South Africa. At 24 there is still ample time for the opportunity-starved Bancroft to secure a Baggy Green, and a strong JLT Cup campaign could well be the platform he uses to once again start mounting a case for higher honours.
Mitch Marsh (WA)
The former Test allrounder and newly-appointed WA captain may have more to prove than most over the month of October. Despite not having played a match since undergoing shoulder surgery that ended his Test tour of India back in March, the door remains ajar for a possible Ashes recall for Marsh at No.6. At his best, the 25-year-old’s skills fit Australia’s middle-order needs well; a valuable extra seam bowling option combined with damaging lower-order hitting. While Glenn Maxwell and Warriors teammate Hilton Cartwright have since emerged as viable candidates for the turnstile No.6 slot, a solid start to the summer in the JLT Cup and early rounds of the JLT Sheffield Shield could quickly elevate Marsh back in to the national selection mix. While he won’t bowl in the 50-over campaign, Marsh can focus purely on his batting against the white ball.
Ben McDermott (TAS)
The son of former Test quick Craig McDermott burst onto the national stage with one of the most destructive T20 knocks in Big Bash history last season, slamming 114 from just 52 deliveries in the Hobart Hurricanes’ record run chase against the Melbourne Renegades. A maiden first-class century soon followed in Tasmania’s final match of the Shield season, prompting selection in Cricket Australia’s 18-man National Performance Squad over the off-season. At just 22-years old the right-hander has proven his destructive ball-striking ability, but the JLT Cup will represent his first opportunity to see whether he’s been able to convert that power into consistent white-ball performances at state level.
Usman Khawaja (QLD)
Despite insisting his recent Test axing in Bangladesh hasn’t affected his mindset heading into the Ashes, the Queensland Bulls captain will be eager to make a statement back on his favoured Australian wickets. Boasting a Test average of 63.73 on Australian soil from 13 matches, a return to top form for the classy left-hander could prove critical to Australia’s hopes of re-claiming the urn. With knocks of 162 and 79 already under his belt in Queensland’s Premier Cricket competition this season, Khawaja should find himself full of confidence heading into the tournament.
Alex Carey (SA)
As the debate around Australia’s wicketkeeping position heats up in the lead-up to the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, the JLT Cup will be the first real chance for Carey to stake his claim at an outside chance of a national call-up. While runs in the limited-overs format are unlikely to be worth as much as those scored in the early Shield rounds, the 26-year-old former footballer, who only became a regular fixture in SA’s best XI last season, will be eager to make the most of his elevated position in South Australia’s batting order. A breakout 2016-17 Shield campaign that saw him claim 59 dismissals and score 594 runs planted him firmly on the national selection radar, a maiden List A and first-class century is the next step for the Redbacks’ rising star.
Billy Stanlake (QLD)
The hype around Queensland’s towering quick has steadily built over the past two seasons, culminating in dual international debuts in both the T20 and ODI formats. The 22-year-old set tongues wagging with his combination of raw pace and bounce in last year’s edition of the BBL for the Adelaide Strikers. However, with only six List A and two first-class matches under his belt to date, continuity will become the key focus for Australia’s burgeoning pace ace as he looks to convert that potential into consistent performances at state level.
Will Pucovski (VIC)
Coming off a record-breaking Under-19 National Championship in last year, Will Pucovski is one of Australia’s most exciting young batting prospects. Scoring an unprecedented 650 runs in last year’s annual under-age championships, including an astonishing four consecutive centuries, the 19-year-old right-hander surpassed names such as Travis Head, Matthew Wade and Ricky Ponting to become the tournament’s all-time leading run-scorer. A luckless string of concussions have kept the Victorian young gun out of the limelight thus far, but if given an opportunity the JLT Cup could well be the stage upon which the talented teenager announces himself to the rest of the competition.
Nathan Lyon (NSW)
Coming off a career-best Test series in Bangladesh, Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon insists while his immediate focus remains the Ashes, he also has an eye on fulfilling a boyhood dream of World Cup glory in 2019. But while his spot in Australia’s Test line-up is iron-clad, the 29-year-old has work to do in colours if he’s to leapfrog current ODI tweakers Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. That campaign will start in the JLT Cup with the Blues, as he aims to improve upon last year’s One-Day Cup output of eight wickets at 33.25 and stake his claim as Australia’s premier turner in both the long and short formats.
Peter Nevill (NSW)
The next two months represent a huge opportunity for Nevill to press his claim for an Ashes recall after Matthew Wade’s omission from Australia’s third one-day international against India cast doubts on selectors’ preferred choice for Test keeping duties ahead of the Ashes. A victim of Australia’s infamous innings and 80-run loss to South Africa in Hobart, the 31-year-old responded well upon his return to the domestic competition with three big centuries for the Blues in the second half of the Shield season. However, after being overlooked for Australia A’s cancelled tour of South Africa, his exact position in Australia’s wicketkeeping stocks remains unclear, providing the man many consider the best pure gloveman in the country with plenty of incentive to impress early.
Param Uppal (CA XI)
A former Australia Under-19 co-captain alongside Will Sutherland and state teammate Jason Sangha, Param Uppal is certainly a player to watch amongst the talented CA XI squad. An elegant top-order batsman and handy off-spin bowling option, Uppall made a classy century against Sri Lanka in Australia’s first youth ODI of their five-match series in Hobart. The former junior state captain, whose leadership qualities are well-chronicled, is currently rookie-contracted to the New South Wales Blues, and will no doubt use the JLT Cup as an opportunity to test himself at domestic level.