Long-term fans of Australia’s domestic limited-overs competition will know the tournament is a breeding ground for the nation’s next superstars.
With a host of current and past internationals strutting their stuff, the Matador Cup represents an opportunity for young cricketers around the country on the cusp of the first-class scene to hone their skills against the big boys before diving head-first into the Sheffield Shield.
All 10 players below will be looking to seize on any chance they’re offered in this season’s tournament, beginning next Monday, October 5.
Tom Andrews (SA)
Darwin product Andrews has already impressed new coach Jamie Siddons in the pre-season, and brings plenty to the table as a left-arm spinning allrounder. “I’m happy with him as a kid and as a bowler,” Siddons told NT News. “Left-arm orthodox (bowlers) are very important in first-class cricket. If he’s up for and he keeps developing, there’s no doubt he’ll be looked at seriously.” Andrews had a terrific season with Woodville in SACA’s first grade competition, with 469 runs at 52.11 and 26 wickets at 21.81, and could be looked at as a lower-order option with the bat and handy second spinning option for the Redbacks.
Sam Heazlett (CA XI)
The youngest of this group, Heazlett plays for grade side Redlands in the Brisbane competition and has made waves at junior rep levels for years. “He’s a solid left-handed opening batsman who’s performed well at youth level for Australia and Queensland, including a big 160 against England U19s earlier this year in Perth,” national talent manager Greg Chappell told cricket.com.au. “To complete the package, he bowls some orthodox left-arm spin and fields well.”
Alex Gregory (CA XI)
Gregory debuted for the Redbacks in last summer’s Matador Cup and his experience at this level will come in handy in his role as captain of the young Cricket Australia XI line-up. The 20-year-old has leadership pedigree, having also skippered Australia’s Under 19s side at the 2014 World Cup. “He’s an allrounder who will bat in the middle order, is a tall, upright medium-fast bowler and also a handy fielder in the circle,” Chappell said.
Marnus Labuschagne (Qld)
WATCH: Labuschagne takes a ripper
Born in South Africa, Labuschagne has his 15 minutes of fame against India last summer when he took a classic catch while sub fielding in the Gabba Test. He’s more than a handy fieldsman though, and took his first tentative steps in Shield cricket last summer at the top of Queensland’s batting order, appearing in five matches for a top score of 83. Given the Bulls’ inexperienced batting order – and again, depending on the availability of Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns – Labuschagne could find himself with a chance to impress in the 50-over game as well.
Ryan Gibson (NSW)
A fresh face at the Blues hailing from the western Sydney club of Campbelltown-Camden, Gibson is a Blues rookie this season who’ll be looking to learn the batting trade from a host of experienced teammates. The 21-year-old is tall right-hander, bats in the top order and made three hundreds to kick off his grade season last summer, prompting his selection for higher honours.
Chris Green (NSW)
Another of South African origin, off-spinner Green’s involvement in this tournament will likely hinge on whether Australia’s proposed Test tour of Bangladesh goes ahead, given both Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe are in that squad. A Northern Districts representative, Green played in three Matador Cup matches for the Blues last summer, taking one wicket, and also turned out for the Thunder against the Sixers, taking a tidy 0-14 from four overs.
Ian Holland (Vic)
Holland received a rookie contract with the Bushrangers in the 2012-13 season when he was announced as the winner of Foxtel's 'Cricket Superstar' television show, but was de-listed in April 2014 before a stunning grade season led to his call-up for this Matador Cup squad. The Bushrangers boast an experienced squad so Holland may be hard-pressed for a start, however new coach David Saker has been impressed. "Ian Holland, along with Guy Walker and Jake Reed, was a standout on the (Bushrangers’ pre-season) camp and he is a player that can fill a lot of roles for us," Saker said. "He can bat, bowl and is really strong in the field."
Ryan Lees (Tas)
With one of the more fascinating bios in Australian cricket, Lees is a seventh-generation Flinders Islander, and grew up on the picturesque patch north of Tasmania. The 21-year-old quick earned a rookie contract in 2013-14 and has represented his state in the Imparja Cup. With Ben Hilfenhaus not in the squad and James Faulkner potentially in Bangladesh, the right-armer looks a handy back-up for the Tigers’ first-choice bowlers.
William Bosisto (WA)
Bosisto will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of Cricket Australia’s decision regarding the Bangladesh Test tour – because without Cameron Bancroft, Adam Voges and Mitchell and Shaun Marsh, he could well fill a hole in the Warriors’ batting order. An Australia Under-19s star, Bosisto debuted in List A cricket for WA as a 19-year-old, played three first-class matches a summer later, but hasn’t been sighted for the Warriors in almost two years. Another opportunity in this tournament could be just what the young gun needs.
Hamish Kingston (Tas)
The second-oldest on this list and boasting two first-class and six List A matches with Tasmania, all played last summer, Kingston took 14 wickets across those eight games. His performances were impressive enough to keep him on the books this time around, and he’ll likely feature in the Tigers’ first XI – if James Faulkner and Andrew Fekete travel to Bangladesh. A right-arm medium-fast bowler, Kingston has benefited from a couple of stints in England and was last summer picked up by Adelaide Strikers for the KFC Big Bash League, though he didn’t play a game.