Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Bulls brimming with batting talent for summer ahead
Queensland boast an abundance of top-order options in their 2020-21 state squad list that has been bolstered by some rising talent from the state's pathway system
24 June 2020, 09:45 AM AEST
The Queensland Bulls have banked on a host of local talent coming through their pathways programme, with no major additions to their contracted squad list for the 2020-21 summer.
The return of state captain Usman Khawaja, who was omitted from Cricket Australia's national contract list last month, is a boost for the Bulls, who can expect to spend large parts of the summer without Test opener Joe Burns and multi-format star Marnus Labuschagne.
Bryce Street, who impressed at the top of the order after making his debut last summer with two Sheffield Shield centuries in his 489 runs at 37.61, has been elevated to his first full state contract, which creates an intriguing top-order logjam for the state.
With Khawaja's route back to the Australian team seemingly only available as an opener – and most likely at state teammate Burns' expense in that eventuality – it will be interesting to see how the Bulls line up in Shield cricket, with Street and Matthew Renshaw other top-order options.
Labuschagne, who bats at No.3 for the Test side ahead of Steve Smith, will likely be keen to occupy that spot for this state team.
Khawaja confirmed he still holds ambitions to revive his Test career, claiming he would "do what's right for me" but didn't clarify how he expected the Bulls to line-up when the Shield season resumes.
"Whether or not it happens, I can't predict that, it's out of my control," Khawaja said today. "I'm going to be doing everything I can and doing things that are right for myself and for Queensland to get to that point.
"If I do that I'll give myself the best chance to be able to achieve that goal again, and that's all I can really do."
He also backed Renshaw to return to form after a difficult 2019-20 season that saw him fall out of the Bulls first XI and take time away from the game.
"He's a big player for us, I'm a big fan of Matthew Renshaw's batting," Khawaja said.
"We haven't seen the last of him in the Baggy Green yet."
That glut of talent has seen Charlie Hemphrey drop off the Queensland list after six seasons with the Bulls and he has returned to the UK full-time after securing a county contract with Glamorgan.
On the bowling front, the Bulls have bid farewell to last summer's leading Marsh Sheffield Shield wicket-taker Cameron Gannon, who jumped at the chance of a three-year deal with Western Australia.
With Brendon Doggett and Mark Steketee to lead the attack in Gannon's absence, Blake Edwards will look to join the frontline seamers, and the 20-year-old was impressive with match figures of 4-92 against Victoria at the MCG last summer in his sole first-class appearance so far.
Street and Edwards are joined by mop-haired allrounder Nathan McSweeney as the three Bulls elevated to full contracts after being on last summer's rookie list.
The new rookies are Benji Floros, the 22-year-old pace-bowling younger brother of ex-Queensland player Jason Floros, 23-year-old spinner Jack Wood and left-handed batter Jack Clayton.
Wood is the first left-arm wrist-spinner to ever be contracted by Queensland and was a standout performer in last season's second XI competition as well as snaring 28 wickets in Premier Cricket.
The 21-year-old Clayton was Premier Cricket's top run scorer last summer with 991 runs at 66.07, including five centuries, and has turned his focus to cricket after a stint playing Australian Rules football with the Brisbane Lions academy.
The Bulls have retained a pair of Australia U19 quicks on their rookie list in Connor Sully and Matthew Willans, who at 205cm stands taller than even Billy Stanlake.
Sully made headlines at the U19 World Cup in January when he smashed 35 runs in a last-wicket stand of 40 in 18 balls to knock England out of the tournament.
Queensland were third when last summer's Shield competition came to an enforced halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were beaten finalists in the Marsh One-Day Cup.
Bowler Alister McDermott, son of former Australia Test star Craig and brother of Tasmania batter Ben, has been de-listed after struggling with recurring back injuries, while Jack Prestwidge has relocated to Victoria.
IN: Jack Wood (new), Jack Clayton (rookie), Benji Floros (rookie)
OUT: Cameron Gannon (WA), Charlie Hemphrey (Glamorgan), Alister McDermott, Jack Prestwidge
Nationally contracted: Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne
State squad: Xavier Bartlett, Max Bryant, Brendan Doggett, Blake Edwards, Sam Heazlett, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nathan McSweeney, Michael Neser, Lachlan Pfeffer, Jimmy Peirson, Matt Renshaw, Billy Stanlake, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street, Mitch Swepson, Jack Wildermuth, Jack Wood
Rookies: Jack Clayton, Benji Floros, Corey Hunter, Connor Sully, Matthew Willans