With the Brisbane Heat kicking off their Big Bash League season on Friday night in Canberra, a host of local players will be MIA for their Premier Cricket clubs this weekend for the Kookaburra T20 finals.
The final step to competing for the Tom Veivers Cup will be decided with Toombul and Wynnum-Manly winning through in the North/East Pool, thus Gold Coast and Valley making up the South/West Pool contenders ahead of the crossover semi-finals.
If any of the semis are abandoned or a no result, the higher placed team will progress through to next weekend’s final.
Toombul v Valley (Ken Mackay Oval, Nundah)
The Bulls remain the only unbeaten team after five completed matches, largely thanks to three mercurial centuries from Brisbane Heat captain Chris Lynn (averaging 143, hitting 48 sixes in four innings and striking at 270).
Unfortunately, with Lynn and Matt Renshaw unavailable due to BBL commitments, Toombul will need someone to fill the sizeable void in the top order.
All signs point to veteran allrounder Preston White, with two fifties and eight wickets across the Bulls’ T20 campaign, to play a big hand at The Yard if play gets underway this Sunday.
The Diehards will be without key contributors Jack Wildermuth, Lachy Pfeffer (Heat) and Cameron Boyce (Renegades), but still boast a potent mix of experience and talented youth led by the evergreen Andrew Gode, who has managed to shrug off an indifferent start to the season with the willow by posting two T20 fifties returning to the top of the order.
Gode will again look to be the dangerman in the Power Play, with former Queensland Bulls batsman Nick Stevens, Jack Beath, Owen Lynch and Dylan McLachlan all having made contributions for the Diehards over the course of the season.
If Toombul’s dynamic opening bowlers Ronan McDonald (28 wickets across all formats at 19.7) and Chris Knight (32 at 22.8) can find some early wickets and expose the young Valley middle order to the likes of White, Harry McNeilly and Ryan Walker, it will go a long way for Toombul continuing their remarkable resurrection over the past 12 months.
Watch the match here:
Gold Coast v Valley (Bill Pippen Oval, Robina)
The Dolphins will take on a tenacious Sea Eagles team fresh from rolling a star-studded Redlands for 97 in their Round 13 clash, whilst Gold Coast will be hoping Josh Kann’s revelation at the top of the order continues to pay dividends.
The former Australian U19 allrounder has taken his game to another level this season, posting a century and seven fifties and averaging just shy of 60, with his efforts against the new ball in the T20 competition featuring a 93 off 52 against Valley, 62 not out off 26 against South Brisbane and a 59 off 24 against University.
Wynnum have plenty of firepower of their own, arguably led by Cameron Trask with a fine supporting cast in Corey Hunter, Jason Floros, Grayson Jones and skipper Nathan Rabnott.
The Gold Coast will be hoping Liam Hope-Shackley can rediscover his best form on the big stage, at his best the allrounder can clear the pickets easily and able to pick up crucial wickets with his canny medium-fast seamers which led to a Queensland Second XI debut last season.
The Wynnum attack will mix searing pace and bounce from Benji Floros with two offspinners in Jason Floros and Jones, plus some seam-up assistance from Trask.
With no BBL commitments or injuries at time of writing, the Sea Eagles will go into this match at full strength, whilst Heat players Matthew Kuhnemann, Xavier Bartlett and Max Bryant will be missing for the Dolphins.
Watch the match here:
In Second Grade, Norths take on University of Queensland at the newly-refurbished Ian Healy Oval in a replay of last season’s Final, where Vikings batsman Addy Grewal was named Player of the Match for his 72 off 31 balls.
The left-hander has been at it again this season, posting a penultimate-ball century against Sandgate-Redcliffe and again looms large for the Students attack.
Meanwhile, Gold Coast will play the Sunshine Coast at Bill Pippen Oval in a “curtain-raiser” for the First Grade match starting at 2.15pm.
The Scorchers sealed their spot with a thrilling final-ball run chase against Sandgate, whilst the Dolphins boast depth in both departments under captain-coach and former Bulls/Heat batsman Andrew Robinson.
Jackson Smith continued his wicket-taking ways with 3-35 against Ipswich last round, as the fast bowler surged past the 30-wicket mark in the competition.