Promising young Bulls ready to charge at Blues
THE young and rebuilding Queensland outfit will get another chance to claim a big scalp when it takes on New South Wales at the SCG, in the Sheffield Shield clash beginning today.
The Bulls are second with two wins, and they will fancy their chances against the fourth-placed Blues, because of the way its fresh young faces have fired over the first three rounds.
Matt Renshaw, 19, scored 94 in Queensland's innings-and-14-run victory over South Australia last round, while Marnus Labuschagne, 21, posted 112, and paceman Billy Stanlake, 21, took six wickets against the Redbacks.
Sam Heazlett, 20, also scored 129 in his first-class debut in the three-wicket win over Tasmania earlier this month.
With his young players starring, Bulls fill-in captain Chris Hartley said his team can gain a crucial psychological edge over NSW starting today.
The Blues will be minus Test stars Steve Smith, David Warner, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Peter Nevill, Steve O'Keefe and Mitchell Starc.
The Bulls will then take on the Blues again in a return fixture in Mackay starting December 6, before the Big Bash League break.
"New South Wales is always strong and they have plenty of depth. It probably makes it a little easier with those guys being out, but they will still have guys like Doug Bollinger, Ed Cowan, Moises Henriques and Nic Maddinson," Hartley told APN.
"We're two wins from three now and it'll be important to get two wins against the same team before Christmas, so we can also take some momentum into the break."
With team leaders Chris Lynn and Usman Khawaja both injured and Joe Burns in the Test team, Hartley said the young Bulls players had not been scared to ask him for advice.
But he added a lot had still been expected of them, with that open and competitive environment making their transition seamless from first grade to first-class level.
"They've been very impressive - they've come in and taken their opportunities," Hartley said.
"More experienced guys like myself, James Hopes and Ben Cutting have offered them plenty of advice and support.
"But at the same time these guys have been performing very well at first-grade level, so we've still placed high expectations on them."
Hartley said it was a different but exciting era the Bulls had embarked on this summer, with a new coach in former Blues opener Phil Jaques.
"It is a rebuilding phase to an extent, but I'm really enjoying the captaincy and seeing all these young players develop," Hartley said.