Matador Cup preview: NSW Blues

We're previewing each of the sides in the lead-up to the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup and with today's focus on the reigning champions

New South Wales 

The squad: Moises Henriques (c), Doug Bollinger, Ryan Carters, Harry Conway, Ed Cowan, Ben Dwarshuis, Chris Green, Daniel Hughes, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu. Coach: Trent Johnston.

Possible starting XI: Nic Maddinson, Ed Cowan, Daniel Hughes, Kurtis Patterson, Moises Henriques, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Gurinder Sandhu, Nathan Lyon, Doug Bollinger, Harry Conway

Who they’re missing: Only the small matter of Australia’s captain Steve Smith, its vice-captain David Warner (international duty) and its best bowler Mitchell Starc (injured). The tearaway was initially set to be available for the final couple of games after he was ordered by Cricket Australia to skip the Qantas Tour of South Africa and rest, but that was before a gruesome training mishap two weeks ago ruled him out of the entire tournament. Starc was virtually unstoppable in last year’s Matador Cup. In just six matches the 26-year-old claimed 26 wickets at a remarkable cost of 8.11 runs apiece. Fellow Test quick Josh Hazlewood is not in the initial squad having also been rested for the South Africa tour, but could come into the side later in the tournament, while allrounder Sean Abbott is out of action due to a broken ankle.

26 of the best from Mitchell Starc

The inside word with Blues captain Moises Henriques: “It’s very exciting. We’ve got a good, young team for Matador. There’s a lot of guys who have spent a whole pre-season here (at Cricket NSW) or in my case away on tour (in Sri Lanka). I’m excited for a bit of a change and to come back and hopefully do well for NSW. Every year you’re expecting big things from Maddo (Maddinson) he’s got so much talent. If he gets going and he’s in the right frame of mind there’s not really many teams in the country that can stop him. He’s one of those guys that can win a game from nowhere and from anywhere. I definitely would rather have him on my team than have to bowl to him. It’s great for NSW to have a trump card like that up our sleeve.

Nic Maddinson proves a match-winner

The talking point: Can the Blues go back-to-back? On paper, they’re one of the most well-balanced squads, possessing firepower in spades with both bat and ball. Nic Maddinson can win games on his own bat, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, if and when they enter the squad, are world-class bowlers, and the Blues have the luxury of playing both Australia Test spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe. The talking point perhaps will come if they fail to win the tournament, given the strength of their playing roster, but there’s plenty of water to pass under the bridge before we get to the business end of the competition.

The 2015 result: Champions. In 2015 the Blues fielded an international-calibre team, with 10 out of their starting XI in last year’s final having represented Australia. With a squad that powerful, a tournament win was the only result that would be accepted at Moore Park, and win they did in emphatic fashion. A loss to an equally star-studded Victoria was the only hiccup during the three-week campaign which culminated in a nine-wicket obliteration of South Australia in the final. Starc was named player of the tournament as leading wicket-taker, while skipper Steve Smith topped the runs tally.

The young gun: Lissom and lithe, Harry Conway is a fast bowler on the rise. The lanky quick made his first-class debut for the Blues at the back-end of last summer and started off with a bang claiming 5-45 in his first innings. He was frugal in his maiden Sydney Premier Cricket match of the summer last weekend taking 1-15 from seven overs for Northern District. He’s in a three-way fight for probably one bowling spot with fellow youngsters Chris Green (off-spinner) and Ben Dwarshius (left-arm paceman), but could get the nod early before Hazlewood and Cummins return. He also does a fantastic David Lloyd impression.

Five scalps on debut for Conway

The pressure on: While he is comfortably the safest gloveman in the country, Peter Nevill would be wanting a few more runs. The Test and T20 wicketkeeper hasn’t been troubling the scorers too much of late, scoring just 51 runs in six innings during the recent Test series loss in Sri Lanka. If the technically-sound right-hander can repeat his 2014 Matador Cup, where he scored 267 runs @ 33.37 opening the innings, the Blues will again be a major force in the tournament and Nevill will regain some form with the bat heading into the Test summer.

The fixtures:

October 7 v Cricket Australia XI at Hurstville Oval

October 9 v Tasmania at Hurstville Oval

October 12 v South Australia at Drummoyne Oval

October 14 v Queensland at Drummoyne Oval

October 16 v Victoria at North Sydney Oval

October 19 v Western Australia at North Sydney Oval

2016 Matador BBQs One-Day Cup - broadcast matches:

Oct 5: SA v Vic, WACA Ground.

Oct 6: WA v Qld, WACA Ground.

Oct 7: NSW v CA XI, Hurstville Oval (free live stream on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App only).

Oct 8: WA v Vic, WACA Ground.

Oct 9: NSW v Tas, Hurstville Oval (free live stream on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App only).

Oct 9: QLD v SA, WACA Ground.

Oct 12: SA v NSW, Drummoyne Oval.

Oct 13: Vic v Tas, North Sydney Oval.

Oct 14: Qld v NSW (D/N), Drummoyne Oval.

Oct 15: Tas v WA, North Sydney Oval.

Oct 16: NSW v Vic (D/N), North Sydney Oval.

Oct 18: Vic v Qld, Drummoyne Oval.

Oct 19: NSW v WA, North Sydney Oval.

Oct 21: Qualifying final, (D/N), Drummoyne Oval.

Oct 23: Final, North Sydney Oval.

All broadcast matches will be shown live and free on GEM, except for the final, which will be shown live and free on Channel Nine. Matches broadcast on the Nine Network can also be live streamed on cricket.com.au and the CA Live App with a CA Live Pass.