Queensland take a chance on Pomersbach
Luke Pomersbach has been given a chance to resume his troubled Australian career after Queensland signed him on a one-year contract. The Bulls have become the first state to finalise their squad for 2012-13 with Pomersbach, Usman Khawaja and Nathan Hauritz the major inclusions, while several regular state players including Ryan Broad and Ben Dunk lost their deals.
The recruitment of Pomersbach from Western Australia is a gamble, because despite his prodigious talent he has made more headlines for his actions off the field than on it. He was suspended four times by the WACA, and was serving one of those suspensions when he was unexpectedly called up to play for Australia in a Twenty20 in 2007 when Brad Hodge injured his back shortly before the game.
In 2009, Pomersbach escaped a jail sentence when he admitted to assaulting a police officer and drink driving, but his problems didn't end there. Before the start of last season, he missed a practice match following a drinking binge and subsequently announced that he would take the summer off from representing Western Australia in an effort to address his issues.
Most recently, he was charged with assault in India this year when a US national alleged that Pomersbach, who played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL, assaulted her and her fiancé in their room at a Delhi hotel. The case was withdrawn after an out-of-court settlement. Trevor Hohns, the Queensland chairman of selectors, said the state would provide Pomersbach with plenty of support.
"Everyone knows the history behind Luke - that's been well documented," Hohns told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday. "It's very easy to discard people but we are here to help. We will back our environment to bring out the best in him. The staff here are all right behind him and I trust his management who encouraged him to come to Queensland will play their part to keep him on the straight and narrow."
Despite his many problems, Pomersbach, 27, has shown glimpses of his talent on the field and averages 40.59 in first-class cricket. The Bulls have decided to hand him a career lifeline after he moved to Brisbane last summer to play club cricket while still contracted to the Warriors, and he is one of 25 men who will make up the Queensland core group next summer, including rookies.
The Bulls have locked a number of players in for two-year deals, including Khawaja, Hauritz, Peter Forrest, Joe Burns, Nathan Reardon, Chris Lynn, Cameron Boyce, Ben Cutting, Cameron Gannon, Alister McDermott, Michael Neser, Chris Hartley and the captain James Hopes. However, there was no room for the opening batsman Broad or the wicketkeeper Dunk, both of whom have captained Queensland in the past two seasons.
Also gone from last year's list are Scott Walter, Steve Paulsen and Alex Kemp, while Chris Swan and Steve Magoffin have both retired from Australian cricket. But Hohns said players who had missed out on contracts would still be in contention for selection and for playing deals if they performed during the summer.
"One thing that we as a selection panel, and as a coaching group, have been very strong on is that the performances will be rewarded, whether you are a contracted player or not," Hohns said. "Form in grade cricket and competitions like the KFC T20 Challenge earned several players selection for Queensland last season and we are very comfortable going down that path again.
"A number of good players were not contracted for the coming season but they will still be considered if their form and performances warrant selection. We are very pleased with the quality of the playing group that has been assembled."
Queensland squad James Hopes (capt), Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Luke Feldman, Jason Floros, Peter Forrest, Matthew Gale, Cameron Gannon, Chris Hartley, Ryan Harris (CA contract), Nathan Hauritz, Usman Khawaja, Chris Lynn, Alister McDermott, Michael Neser, Luke Pomersbach, Nathan Reardon, Andrew Robinson, Wade Townsend.
Rookies Corey Barsby, Nick Buchanan, Ronan McDonald, James Peirson, Nick Stevens.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here