All eyes were on dumped Test opener Joe Burns but it was a handful of unheralded young batsmen that stole the show in the opening match of the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup.
After being dropped for the final Test of Australia’s series whitewash in Sri Lanka, Burns was back in action for Queensland, striking six boundaries in a quick-fire 42 before being undone by the off-spin of Cricket Australia XI captain Will Bosisto.
The right-hander was outshone by his Bulls teammates Matt Renshaw, who compiled a patient 88 on his List A debut, and stand-in captain Jason Floros (66), who guided Queensland to a three-wicket win with 18 balls to spare.
Ryan Gibson, also making his first domestic limited-overs appearance, had earlier notched a maiden ton for the CA XI, while Bosisto (86) and pocket-rocket Sam Harper (41 off 26 balls) both impressed with the bat as well.
The side, coached by former Test batsman Brad Hodge, forms the seventh team in the one-day tournament for a second season and is made up of the country’s best young players not picked for their state squads.
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“It is a new team,” Gibson said of the CA XI, which has retained five players from last year’s squad but has provided five more to their respective state squads this year.
“There are a couple of guys from last year so they’ve have spoken to the younger guys who had their first games today and told us all about it.
“’Boz’ captained very well, he’s a good leader out there.
“I’ve been around the squad for a little bit now and I feel like one of the more experienced players in this group. I’m trying to lead from example.”
The 22-year-old is remarkably one of the elder statesmen of the side, with Bosisto (23) the oldest member of the XI that played the Bulls.
Gibson was cruelly denied a domestic berth last year, after losing his place in the New South Wales squad when Australia’s Test players returned to take part in the domestic tournament due to the last-minute postponement of their Bangladesh tour.
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“The Aussie tour got cancelled so I got dropped out,” the Penrith-born batsman said. “But I’m really pleased to get an opportunity to play this year.
“Unfortunately we lost this game but the boys are on a high because we took it down to the death, so hopefully next game we can get up.”
Floros, filling in as captain for Queensland with Usman Khawaja on national duty and Chris Lynn recovering from a shoulder injury, was impressed with what he saw from the CA XI.
"They are a bunch of good players and they are almost halfway through their season after playing in the quad series," the 25-year-old said, referring to the winter Quadrangular ‘A’ series that a number of the CA XI squad members played in.
“Ryan (Gibson) batted really well today to get a hundred and put us behind the (eight) ball at halfway.
"We thought 300 was par so we did really well to keep them under that. A lot of our guys stood up and played well today.
“There were a few shaky moments along the way but it was good to stand up in the end.”
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And the Canberra-raised Floros was happy to see Renshaw, who was the Bulls leading Sheffield Shield run-scorer last season, anchor Queensland’s run-chase in his maiden domestic 50-over outing.
“That’s (Renshaw’s) role basically in any form of cricket,” Floros said. “If he’s batting for long periods, we’re going to be in a good spot.
“It’s good to see him do that on debut and let’s hope he can do that for the rest of the tournament.”
Both Queensland and the CA XI take on Tasmania in their next match, with the Bulls returning to Allan Border Field to play them on Monday while Bosisto’s men play the Tigers on Wednesday.