Queensland debuts two players in the one-day and four-day games against Victoria over the coming week, and the good news is that both are in red-hot form. Dom Michael and Ronan McDonald are delighted, excited and ready to go...(see the video interviews with Dom Michael and Ronan McDonald)
Norths batsman Dom Michael and Toombul paceman Ronan McDonald have trodden different paths to selection for the XXXX GOLD Bulls.
Michael has been hammering on the selection door for the past two seasons and drawn the heavy attention of other States, while McDonald has come from nowhere to command a spot.
"I've always wanted to play for Queensland, it's been my dream," Michael said.
The 25-year-old has scored 986 runs across one-day and two games in the XXXX GOLD Premier Grade this season, including four centuries.
That came on top of 713 runs the previous season, and 411 at an average of 41 in a reduced 2010-11.
During the same period, he scored three centuries for the Queensland Academy of Sport in the Futures League Second XI competition.
Michael admitted it was tough going waiting for an opportunity to arise.
"It probably was at the time but now that I'm here I've earnt my spot, as everyone was telling me to do, and I'm happy that I've done all the hard work," he said. "So I will really appreciate it when I get my chance."
Michael, whose mother is western Samoan and father Greek Cypriot, played t-ball, baseball and soccer and a child. He also played plenty of cricket with older brother Andy in the front yard.
"I loved it and picked it up from there," he said. "(Andy) is very proud of me, he's happy for me as well as our parents. I played all of my juniors and seniors with Andy he went to Uni this year.
"There's been a lot of nice messages coming in from clubmates and friends and family - it's a very nice feeling."
Michael is the club captain at Norths.
"I'm the guy that looks after all the blokes but more so (the role is about) being mates with everyone in the club. I just won the popularity contest and got voted in at the start of the season," he joked.
The tall, elegant left-hander is delighted to be making his debut at the MCG, arguably the mecca of Australian sporting stadiums.
"When the Futures League washed out last year, we went to the 'G' to have a look around when the Bull sere playing the Vics. It was just phenomenal. That place is massive," he said. "It's a great place to make your debut. Hopefully all things go well and we can win the game.
Michael lives an active lifestyle and is never far away from cricket. He works part-time at the Hendra Health Works gym, does some coaching at Gregory Terrace with Brendan Nash and Blair Copelin, and does two days a week at the Fitness Market at Newmarket.
"There's a lot of flexibity so I can make the most of my week and put as much effort into my cricket as I can," he said.
McDonald snared 30 wickets at 15.5 for Toombul last summer and has taken 29 wickets at 19.9 across the Grade one-day and two-day competitions this season and been in outstanding form of late.
The 20-year-old dominated the powerful University of Queensland batting line-up twice in a week, taking 3-14 off 12.3 overs in a two-dayer, and 3-26 off 10 overs in the one-day grand final win last Sunday.
Prior to that, he snared seven wickets for the QAS and bowled superbly against a strong NSW batting line-up.
"I haven't tried to think about it too much, I've tried to keep the nerves down," he said at the prospect of playing against Victoria. "If I get the opportunity I'll go back to the basics that got me into Grade cricket."
McDonald was primarily a batsman through his early teenage years until undergoing a huge growth spurt at 15.
"I had a massive growth spurt and became a bit uncoordinated," he said. "I thought I better do something to stay in the team and I started bowling a bit and it came together," he said.
"I found it really difficult to keep the batting going which was a bit unfortunate but it was good the bowling came out of it.
"I'm trying to do a lot of work on my batting now and hopefully it comes together."
The well-spoken big man is studying for a Bachelor of Exercise in Sports Science at the University of Queensland, having been in residential college for the last two years at St John's which he described as a very good experience.
"I'm not quite sure what I was do with the degree but I know it's the right area for me," he said, adding that he is eyeing a long cricket career in the meantime.
He played rugby league at school and later rugby at Churchie before cricket became his focus.
McDonald hails from the town of St George, 540km from Brisbane, and travels home on holidays to help out on the family farm, which runs sheep and cattle, and grows cotton and wheat.
"Unfortunately I only get back out there about twice a year," he said. "The old man's still out there slogging away and doing all the hard work so I can come down here and play cricket."