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JLT Cup squad preview: SA

24 September 2017

Callum Ferguson will anchor a strong Redbacks middle order // Getty

Lachlan Sellar

Lachlan Sellar

Redbacks ready to turn heads with experienced leaders and promising younger wave of talent

The squad: Callum Ferguson (c), Tom Andrews, Alex Carey, Tom Cooper, Michael Cormack, Jake Lehmann, Joe Mennie, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayers*, Kelvin Smith, Cameron Valente, Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall.

*Spencer Johnson may replace Sayers, pending injury assessment

Possible Starting XI: Jake Weatherald, Alex Carey, Callum Ferguson, Tom Cooper, Jake Lehmann, Alex Ross, Cameron Valente, Joe Mennie, Tom Andrews, Daniel Worrall, Nick Winter

Who they're missing: With skipper Travis Head and front-line bowlers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson all unavailable due to national duties, the pressure will be on the Redbacks' more experienced players to keep South Australia in contention towards the back end of the tournament. That guidance looks unlikely to come in the form of veteran seamer Chadd Sayers however; last summer's Sheffield Shield Player of the Year suffered a finger injury in the first round of the West End Redbacks League that could rule him out of the tournament. However, with Head, Richardson and Zampa all possibly available for the finals, the Redbacks could be in line for a timely boost should they make it to the final four.  

The inside word with Redbacks skipper Callum Ferguson: "We've got some guys who I feel are ready to take their game to the next level this season. I'm really excited to see how Alex Carey goes this year. He's had a big pre-season and spent a lot of time up in the National Cricket Centre, so he's one who is really raring to go. Alex Ross is another who's desperate to get out there and remind everyone of what a good player he is after some injury problems last year, so watch out for him. We've got guys who we want to go out and win games for us, including some young guys who might not have had a chance to do that yet in their careers. That's what we're looking for this tournament – guys who are ready to step up and win a game for us when they get their opportunity."

The talking point: Is Alex Carey a legitimate Ashes bolter? The former GWS Giant-turned first-choice South Australian 'keeper has hardly put a foot wrong since bursting onto the domestic scene in late 2015, pouching a record-breaking 59 dismissals to go along with 594 runs in last year's Sheffield Shield competition. Those feats earned him selection as Australia A's sole gloveman for their tour of South Africa, though its cancellation due to the player pay dispute ultimately cost the 26-year-old a crucial Ashes audition. However, with 117 and 140 from his first two hit-outs in the West End Redbacks League this season, he looks well placed to hit the ground running in the One-Day Cup and from there, anything is possible.

The 2016 result: After making an inspired charge to the final against the odds in 2015, the Redbacks never quite got going in last year's tournament, finishing sixth after a controversial final round which saw a rule misunderstanding potentially cost them a spot in the finals. However, with a young and improving core at their disposal, another season's worth of experience will have proven particularly beneficial for this squad. Fresh off a second consecutive Shield final appearance, don't be surprised to see them bounce back again in the 50-over format.

The young gun: Crowned SA's One-Day Player of the Year last season after making his List A debut at the beginning of the tournament, young allrounder Cameron Valente enjoyed a breakout performance in 2016. Finishing as the equal-leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps at a miserly average of 16.73, the former Australian Under 19 player also showcased his ability with the bat after peeling off a run-a-ball maiden List-A century against the Bushrangers in Perth. Despite his impressive white-ball form the 23-year-old failed to add to his four first-class games last season, so expect him to again look to make the most of his opportunity in the limited-overs format. 

Valente vaults to maiden ton

The pressure on: One of the cleanest strikers of the ball in the competition, an ill-timed injury to Alex Ross cost the rising star his opportunity to shine in the limited-overs format last season. A nasty blow to the hand in last year's one-day domestic cup opener not only ruled the man dubbed 'the sweepologist' out for the remainder of the tournament, but also restricted him to just one first-class match as he struggled to regain his form and force his way back into South Australia's best XI. Capable of hitting to all parts of the ground and an excitement machine in the field, the 2015-16 Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year will be eager to perform and set himself up for a big summer.

Ross returns to haunt Strikers

The fixtures

September 27 v Cricket Australia XI, Allan Border Field, Brisbane

October 1 v Queensland, Allan Border Field, Brisbane

October 6 v New South Wales, Hurstville, Sydney

October 10 v Tasmania, North Sydney Oval, Sydney

October 12 v Victoria, North Sydney Oval, Sydney

October 15 v Western Australia, Drummoyne Oval, Sydney