Victoria hope Cameron White's alright for final
Victoria are hoping their captain Cameron White will be able to switch into first-class mode when they chase consecutive Sheffield Shield wins this week. White has spent most of the year with Australia's limited-overs sides and has returned from New Zealand to lead his state against Queensland at the MCG from Wednesday.
Instead of aiming for a boundary or more an over he will have to operate much more cautiously over five days with his tactics and strokeplay. While players shift formats regularly during a season, White's jump will be a significant shock as he hasn't appeared in a first-class match since before Christmas.
"Cameron White coming back to turn his head from white-ball cricket into red ball is a big ask," Victoria's coach Greg Shipperd said. "It's a huge challenge in terms of your psychology.
"It's a five-day game and you need to make good decisions for long periods of time, it's something we managed to juggle particularly well this season. Hopefully he's able to switch on, on Wednesday. As a captain he played a terrific final for us last year and will be keen to do it again."
White scored a century in the rain-affected draw against the Bulls at the Junction Oval in 2008-09, which secured the trophy for Victoria. The venue this week is the MCG, where the hosts are unbeaten in their past 13 first-class matches.
The Bushrangers are also in their ninth consecutive domestic final in all three formats, making them strong favourites against a developing and inconsistent Queensland side. Victoria's line-up has also changed, with Brad Hodge and Dirk Nannes retiring from first-class cricket, and Shipperd wants the duties shared.
"Everyone in the side has got a responsibility to do their job, from the opener pairing in Nick Jewell and Chris Rogers, to David Hussey, to the emerging boy Aaron Finch," he said. "Andrew McDonald is still wanting to show the cricket world he's one of the best allrounders in the business, and our aging pace bowling attack, they've got a job to do."
Shipperd and the Victorians are aware of Queensland's desire to win back the trophy after last year and he is most worried by their bowling attack. "Ben Cutting had a terrific season and Chris Swan and Luke Feldman move the ball," he said. "Our batting has to be on guard." Rogers has been cleared to play despite a broken hand while the legspinner Bryce McGain has held on to his spot.
If the Victorians click, they should have the power to grind down Queensland, although they have had some slips at the last stage. "Our hunger for competition speaks for itself in that we've been in 13 of the last 15 finals," Shipperd said. In the eight previous deciders they have won twice, with those victories coming in the Twenty20 competition.
Victoria squad Chris Rogers, Nick Jewell, Rob Quiney, David Hussey, Cameron White (capt), Andrew McDonald, Aaron Finch, Michael Hill, Matthew Wade (wk), John Hastings, Damien Wright, Bryce McGain, Darren Pattinson.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo