JLT Cup squad preview: Victoria

Veteran White takes charge of a surprisingly inexperienced Bushrangers group

The squad: Cameron White (c), Wes Agar, Scott Boland, Travis Dean, Seb Gotch, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, John Hastings, Jon Holland, Will Pucovski, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Blake Thomson, Chris Tremain.

Possible starting XI: Marcus Harris, Travis Dean, Cameron White (c), Will Pucovski, Matt Short, Sam Harper (wk), John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Scott Boland, Jon Holland.

Who they’re missing: Quite a few; newly appointed captain Peter Handscomb was a late call-up to Australia's one-day international squad in India as cover for fellow Bushrangers batsman Aaron Finch. Victoria hope to welcome him back at some stage during the tournament but are likely to have wait longer for the return of Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Dan Christian, all of whom are staying on for the T20 leg of the tour. When the departures of former skipper Matthew Wade (Tasmania) and allrounder Marcus Stoinis (Western Australia) are also factored in, the Bushrangers squad has a distinctly different look to it.

The inside word with (stand-in) captain Cameron White: "If Finchy's calf is all right over in India, Pete should be back for game two or three. Hopefully it's only a couple of games (I have to captain), but I'm happy to do it. It's a great opportunity for some of the guys, (especially) those seven guys who haven't played for Victoria before. In previous years, we've had a really strong team on paper and we've not been able to win the competition anyway. Who knows, this might be something different and it might be good. I think any time you get to play against the very best players, that's great exposure for young players. Especially if they're aiming to play for Australia one day."

The talking point: Traditionally stacked with seasoned veterans, Victoria will begin their JLT Cup campaign with a very inexperienced batting line-up. Half their squad has never donned the navy blue in an official 50-over match and their highly-rated, but inexperienced, young batsmen – the likes of Will Pucovski, Seb Gotch, Matt Short and Blake Thomson - look set to be thrown straight in the deep end. Victoria's bowling on the other hand is, on paper, as strong as it comes. Test quick Peter Siddle headlines the attack but even he isn't guaranteed a spot with John Hastings, Chris Tremain and Scott Boland all having represented Australia in an ODI over the past 18 months. That’s not to mention spinner Jon Holland, one of the domestic one-day scene's leading performers in recent years, while recovering speedster James Pattinson is back bowling off the long run and could feature towards the end of the tournament. Somewhat remarkably given their dominant Sheffield Shield form in recent years, the Bushrangers have taken out the 50-over title just once in the past 19 seasons and will be desperate to add some one-day silverware to their trophy cabinet.

The 2016 result: Lost in the elimination final. After sneaking into third spot following some confused tactics from South Australia in their final group match, Victoria failed to overcome a strong NSW outfit as their 242 at Drummoyne Oval proved too few in a rain-affected affair. It was an underwhelming finish considering the XI they played in that final match featured just one player – Handscomb – who hadn't played international cricket at the time. With 457 runs at 76.16 with two tons, White finished as the competition's leading run-scorer.

The young gun: Back after a rollercoaster 2016-17 summer, Will Pucovski could play a major role for the Bushrangers in this tournament. Prolific form at last year’s Under-19 National Championships – where he struck four consecutive tons and broke a 23-year tournament run-scoring record – saw him handed a Sheffield Shield debut against NSW in February. But the luckless Pucovski – on his 19th birthday – was concussed during the match while fielding, cutting short his breakout season. Now fully recovered, the teenager’s game is as advanced as Finch's or Handscomb's was at the same age, according to White; high praise indeed.

Dec 2016: Pucovski carries his bat for the Gilly XI

The pressure on: White can't do it all with the bat and opener Marcus Harris needs to fire too if the Bushrangers hope to chalk up some early wins. The left-hander had some encouraging performances in the tournament last year before losing his spot when the likes of Finch returned but he looks set for an extended run in the top-order this tournament. In his first season with Victoria after moving from Perth, Harris was a revelation in the Sheffield Shield with a team-leading 808 runs including a century in the final in Alice Springs. Victoria has a strong track record of firing recruits from the other side of the Nullarbor into Australian colours (think Chris Rogers, David Hussey and Marcus Stoinis) and Harris could well join them with another eye-catching season.

The fixtures:

October 1 v Western Australia – WACA

October 4 v Tasmania – WACA

October 7 v Queensland – North Sydney Oval

October 10 v Cricket Australia XI – Hurstville Oval

October 12 v South Australia – North Sydney Oval

October 15 v New South Wales – North Sydney Oval