Northern Suburbs and Redlands will welcome the unexpected returns of Test stars Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne, plus Queensland wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson for Sunday’s Final of the Kookaburra One Day Competition at Allan Border Field.
The 2020-21 season has already thrown up its fair share of surprises, but not many would have been bold enough to predict a Queensland Bulls return to home less than a week into their scheduled five-week Adelaide hub stay.
Nevertheless, it’s a huge boost for both clubs as Redlands embrace Labuschagne back into the fold following his sublime 167 from 230 balls in Adelaide and Peirson (who scored 62 for the Bulls), while incumbent Test opener Burns returns averaging 64 for the Vikings so far this season.
Redlands arguably go into this weekend’s quest for the John McKnoulty Cup as favourites, with two bonus point wins from their three matches and a comprehensive eight-wicket victory in the semi final against the Gold Coast, while Norths will expect to field a star-studded line-up stacked with Queensland representative experience.
Norths currently lead the Damien Mullins Cup overall points championship in the Bulls Masters First Grade competition and are well-placed to defeat Sandgate-Redcliffe in their current two-day encounter, while Redlands sit second and will chase just over 300 this Saturday against Western Suburbs.
The key looks to sit with the Vikings attack needing early breakthroughs as Redlands have not been bowled out in any innings so far this season, largely off the back of a highly productive batting order featuring Sam Heazlett (327 runs at 65.4 across all formats), Liam Smith (344 at 68.8), Peirson (320 at 80), Leigh Drennan (245 at 61.25) and skipper Simon Milenko, whose 241 runs have come at 60.25 and a strike rate of 128.9 on top of 14 wickets at 19.36. The former Tasmanian and Bulls allrounder is the dangerman for Norths.
They’ll face a bowling attack consisting of Connor Sully, Sam Hele, at least one Prestwidge and a potential three-pronged spin attack of Nathan McSweeney, Nathan Hauritz and Hassan Sardar, although the Vikings Second Grade team has also qualified for their respective One Day Final which may influence team selection.
Norths captain Kendel Fleming marked his return from injury with a sparkling century against Ipswich, and with McSweeney averaging over 100 with the bat this season, Norths have plenty of firepower themselves. Big hitting Josh Brown smashed a two-day 137 from 110 balls against Toombul last round to ignite his unusually quiet start to the season and will pose a serious threat to the Tigers attack if he gets going.
But it will be all eyes will be on Labuschagne as he kits up for his first appearance in Redlands colours this season, and Tigers faithful will be hoping he can continue his remarkable run-scoring spree and guide them to victory.
Admission is free. Fans will be asked to observe appropriates social distancing measures and to follow COVID-19 protocols as requested upon entry.
Kookaburra One Day Final, Sunday 18th October
Redlands v Northern Suburbs, Allan Border Field, 10am
Match livestream here: https://matchcentre.premier.qld.cricket.com.au/match/12832-3456571/scorecard/
Simon Milenko (c)
Kendel Fleming (c)