Strapping young allrounder Will Sutherland has credited a full pre-season, his first since giving away a promising Australian rules football career, for his brilliant start to the domestic season in Townsville.
Sutherland was likened to former Australia allrounder John Hastings after he ripped the heart out of Queensland's batting line-up on Sunday, removing five of their top seven (including the prize scalp of Chris Lynn) inside their first 17 overs in a devastating haul of 5-45.
A remarkable cameo from Bulls No.9 Mitchell Swepson (77 off 78 balls) nearly undid the 18-year-old's early work before fellow quick Chris Tremain claimed the final two wickets to give the Vics a 13-run victory to kick-start their JLT One-Day Cup campaign.
Sutherland was restricted to just three 50-over games with Victoria last summer as he balanced his final year of school, as well as an Under-19 World Cup campaign, with his burgeoning career in the top flight.
Earlier in 2017, he made the call to pursue cricket over football, in which he'd been touted as a high AFL draft pick – a decision that's already paying dividends.
"I've had a big preseason," Sutherland said.
"It's actually my first preseason (for cricket) because I've always been playing footy. It's good to get the rewards after working hard."
His maiden five-wicket haul continues the promising start to his calling in navy blue, having burst onto the domestic scene in the JLT Cup last year when he collected 4-11 against NSW.
"It's good to be back," the right-armer continued. "It's great to have those experiences under the belt a year ago, they gave me confidence coming into today. I felt really prepared."
While he admitted he'd been a little fortunate to dismiss Lynn for a duck after the Bulls skipper cracked a wide loosener straight to point, luck played no part in the remainder of Sutherland's wickets.
Sam Heazlett, Charlie Hemphrey and Jack Wildermuth were all caught off edges to slip, while the teenager displayed supreme coordination to complete a sharp caught-and-bowled off Lachlan Pfeffer.
"I don't know how I caught that – just pure instinct," a smiling Sutherland said.
As a capable batsman to boot, Sutherland looms as a key figure for the rest of Victoria's JLT Cup campaign especially given the recent departures of seam-bowling allrounders Hastings and Dan Christian.
Glenn Maxwell, who'd earlier struck 80 to lift the Vics to a total of 240, sees some striking similarities between Hastings and Sutherland.
"He's a star, he's a very good young player," said Maxwell.
"He's very similar, (he’s) in the John Hastings mould – big tall guy, moves the ball around, hits a great length and hits the seam.
"It makes it difficult for batters if you're getting that movement off the wicket and pressuring their defence all the time.
"He's just got a really level head about him. Hopefully … we can see him with the bat because he's some really good skills there as well."