Big bash for T20 cash
Match FactsTuesday, January 19, the Gabba
Start time 1845am (0845 GMT)
The Big PictureFor the second year in a row Queensland will host Victoria in the most valuable match of the domestic season. While the second-versus-third Twenty20 affair will not win any prizes, it will earn the victor a place in the Champions League in India, where the winner's cheque is US$2.5m.
When the teams met last summer Victoria prevailed, but Queensland are on track for an upset of the powerful Bushrangers after winning their past three games to storm into second place. Both sides will benefit from some high-quality guests, with Daniel Vettori (Queensland) and Ross Taylor (Victoria) flying in for their second appearances in the competition.
It is not only the locals who are looking for a big pay day later in the year. The registration of the New Zealanders (neither man will be available for Saturday's final) qualifies them for the Champions League if their side makes it through at the Gabba. Taylor scored 58 off 36 balls when the Bushrangers beat the Bulls last month while Vettori chipped in with three catches and a wicket when he faced New South Wales on his first day-trip to Australia.
Victoria's big Australian names - Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Cameron White and Dirk Nannes - will also be looking to have a significant impact under the Gabba lights. Queensland will rely on a band filled with guys who will spend most of their lives in the domestic ranks, with James Hopes, Andrew Symonds and Vettori providing the international experience.
The Bushrangers were victorious in the first three Big Bash tournaments and finished second last year, while Queensland's best is third. The winner faces South Australia in Adelaide on Saturday, but the status as Big Bash champion is less important than having a shot at the Champions League riches.
Form guide (most recent first)Queensland WWWLL
Watch out for...Brad Hodge is Victoria's most experienced man - and most important. He makes runs at will and is in form after 90 from 56 balls against Tasmania on Friday, an innings ensuring the Bushrangers made the preliminary final. At this stage last year Hodge was injured, but still managed 59 in the win that sent them to the Champions League. "He is obviously a quality player and a key wicket," Queensland's captain Chris Simpson said. "The beauty about Brad Hodge is that he does his stuff in finals and big games."
The allrounder Chris Simpson has batted like a maniac - in a good way - over the past week. With Chris Hartley out with injury and a lack of punch at the top of the order, Simpson promoted himself to open for the final two group games. After a couple of years of under-performance with the bat came the explosion, which currently stands at 121 runs from 62 balls in the competition. He blasted 34 off 14 against New South Wales and followed up with an even better 76 off 38 against Western Australia. Victoria will be watching - along with everyone else.
Team newsVettori comes back in to squeeze out Scott Walter, the left-arm swing bowler, and Queensland hope he brings his A game when he lands in Brisbane on the morning of the game. Symonds has been quiet during the opening five fixtures, scoring 87 runs at 29.00, but has regularly been at his best in the big contests.
Queensland squad Chris Simpson (capt), James Hopes, Lee Carseldine, Andrew Symonds, Glen Batticciotto, Chris Lynn, Ben Dunk (wk), Craig Philipson, Nathan Reardon, Daniel Vettori, Ben Cutting, Ryan Harris, Nathan Rimmington.
On Tuesday morning, Dwayne Bravo, the West Indies allrounder, pulled out with a sore hand in a late blow for the squad. The wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has been having trouble with an ankle but has been cleared to play and replaces Ryan Carters in the outfit. James Pattinson has come in for Glenn Maxwell, the 12th man on Friday, while Aaron Finch is hoping to hold his spot at the top of the order.
Victoria squad Brad Hodge, Aaron Finch, Ross Taylor, David Hussey, Cameron White (capt), Andrew McDonald, Matthew Wade (wk), John Hastings, Clint McKay, Jon Holland, Dirk Nannes, James Pattinson.
Pitch and conditionsThe Gabba always offers something for both disciplines, but it has been handy for the team batting first during this competition. Scores of 157, 153 and 203 have started the game and been enough for victory on each occasion. A warm, fine day is predicted for Brisbane on Tuesday.
Stats and trivia
- Hodge is Victoria's leading run-scorer with 142 this summer, while Hopes tops Queensland's list with 141
- Simpson's batting strike-rate of 195.16 is the fifth-best of the competition while Ben Cutting, the Queensland fast bowler, is sixth with 190.00, having scored 38 runs from 20 balls
- Victoria beat Queensland in the opening match of the competition, winning by 3 runs on Duckworth-Lewis when the rain came
- White lost all five tosses in the group games
- Hodge's opening partnership of 147 with Finch against Tasmania was the highest of the 2009-10 tournament
- Vettori's three catches in his only game for Queensland put him third on the competition list
Quotes"Victoria might be favourites and good on them. There's so many cliches you can say when you're an underdog, and for two years we've been an underdog. That's got to stop one day and people are going to realise that we're a good cricket team"
"We have always had good, competitive games with the Bulls and Tuesday's match should again be a thriller"
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.