Queensland will resume their JLT Sheffield Shield campaign without skipper Usman Khawaja, who was today ruled out of the clash against Tasmania with a thumb injury.
Khawaja hurt his thumb last month with the Sydney Thunder in the KFC BBL, and while scans revealed no fracture, the left-hander missed the Thunder’s final regular season match against the Melbourne Renegades in Canberra.
The four-day match at the Gabba was set to be Khawaja’s only first-class fixture before he departs with his Australian teammates for the four-Test Qantas Tour of South Africa next Thursday.
"I'm about 85 percent there but there’s a chance I could aggravate it again and with the tour coming up, everyone felt it was best to err on the side of caution," said Khawaja, whose injured thumb is still troubling him during training.
"It’s disappointing because it’s an important match for us but I’ve plenty of confidence in the boys to get on with things."
While the 31-year-old might be light on preparation leading in to the first Test against the Proteas on March 1 in Durban, he will have a three-day tour match against a South Africa Invitational XI to fine tune his skills and his coming off 171 in his last Test outing at the SCG against England.
Khawaja will now join national leaders Steve Smith and David Warner and pace trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins on the sidelines for the first round of the Sheffield Shield after the KFC BBL break.
Smith and the quicks have been rested from state duties with NSW, while Warner will be captaining the Australian T20 unit in the ongoing Gillette T20 INTL tri-series.
Khawaja is one of six players in the 15-man squad who has previously played Test cricket in South Africa.
His only Test came in Johannesburg in 2011 when Cummins, on debut, hit the winning runs to secure a two-wicket victory and level the two-match series at one-all.
Khawaja made 65 in the second innings of that match and boasts a brilliant 145 opening the batting against the Proteas in the day-night Test at Adelaide Oval last summer.
Queensland leg-spinner Mitch Swepson enters the match full of confidence after taking career-best figures of 6-11 in the Queensland Premier Cricket Kookaburra One Day Final last weekend.
Sandgate-Redcliffe batsman Charlie Hemphrey will replace Khawaja in the Bulls squad, who face the Tasmanian Tigers on February 8 in Brisbane, while wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson will captain the Bulls again in the absence of Khawaja.