Blues boosted by international stars
New South Wales have confirmed their full list of international stars will be available for the Pura Cup final against Victoria starting on Saturday. The Blues already secured the advantage of hosting the decider and now they can head into the game with a significant boost of experience.
Brett Lee, Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken have been named in a 13-man squad for the SCG clash after their immediate international duties ended with the CB Series loss to India. They join Simon Katich, Stuart MacGill, Phil Jaques and Brad Haddin in an extensive list of current or former international players in the Blues' line-up.
The eight men have played a combined 191 Tests and 500 ODIs, compared to Victoria's lowly totals of five Tests - all courtesy of Brad Hodge - and 41 one-day internationals thanks to Hodge and Cameron White. However, none of Clarke, Lee, Bracken or Clark have played a first-class match in six weeks as the tri-series kept their focus solely on 50-over contests.
Beau Casson's all-round efforts against South Australia on the weekend might help him sneak into the starting line-up but the in-form fast bowler Mark Cameron is unlikely to be as lucky, despite being retained in the extended group. A similar fate befell Cameron last season when he grabbed five wickets against Tasmania and was dropped for the final against the same opposition less than a fortnight later as Matthew Nicholson returned.
"That's just how it is at New South Wales at the moment," Cameron told the Sydney Morning Herald after running through the Redbacks' top order with 4 for 34 in the second innings on Sunday. "We've got lots of fast bowlers and they're very good and we're about to see that next week.
"It's my job. This year my job was a back-up bowler and I've fulfilled that role and I'm exceptionally happy we are playing the final here at the SCG. If I'm in the 12, and, touch wood I am, I'd love to be there, but if I'm not, such is life."
Cameron, 27, had played only three first-class games before this campaign, during which he finally made his mark on the Pura Cup with his extra pace and ability to swing the ball. Only the injured Doug Bollinger has more wickets for the Blues this summer than Cameron's 27 at 17.51 and the captain Katich said it would be hard on Cameron if he were to miss the final.
"It's one of those situations where we are blessed to have guys coming back that are fantastic players," Katich said in the Daily Telegraph. "But on the other hand, the guys who got us to the final will be missing out. It's a tough situation for those guys involved. They have done all the hard work to get us here so hopefully the others can come in and finish it off." Peter Forrest and Usman Khawaja have been omitted, while Nicholson has retired.
New South Wales squad Phil Jaques, Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich (capt), Michael Clarke, Dominic Thornely, Brad Haddin (wk), Grant Lambert, Beau Casson, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Stuart MacGill, Mark Cameron.