Teams vie for more than just a trophy
A drought will end at the SCG on Sunday. It is only a question of which one.
The Australian domestic 50-over competition has undergone a complete overhaul, including multiple name changes and format tweaks, since either Western Australia or New South Wales last lifted the trophy, in 2006.
But while claiming victory is undoubtedly foremost in the minds of the players, this tournament has taken on added significance ahead of the World Cup in 2015.
Several players have already been drafted into Australia's T20 squad to face South Africa in November, and the opportunity to secure a place in January's triangular series with India and England remains open to players who rise to the occasion on Sunday's final.
"There's certainly an awareness there and almost anyone in this competition is a chance of playing in the World Cup," New South Wales seamer Pat Cummins said. "But, to be honest, it's not really something we talk about and it doesn't change the way we play for New South Wales. We're just trying to win games and, for me, I'm just happy to be back playing."
It is hardly surprising Cummins is enjoying his first season playing for his state since 2011.There is a sense of deja-vu in almost every story involving Cummins ever since his only Test appearance - a recurring pattern of near-comebacks and frustrating injuries.
It's hard to believe that nearly three years have passed since he took seven wickets and hit the winning runs as a brash 18-year-old to secure Australia's victory over South Africa in Johannesburg. There was a reminder of his all-round value when Cummins struck the winning runs against Queensland to secure New South Wales' place in the final.
Foot and back injuries have plagued his career, but after working on his action with Dennis Lillee, among others, Cummins will join Australia's T20 squad to face South Africa.
"The body feels really good," Cummins said. "I've been back bowling for a long time now and strung together a lot of games in the past ten months so I'm really happy with where I am at the moment and I can concentrate on form and bowling well rather than anything else while I'm playing."
One of Cummins' fast-bowling opponents in the final, Nathan Coulter-Nile, has no doubt a national call-up for Cummins is just a matter of time.
"I think everyone knows that he's good enough when he's fit," Coulter-Nile said. "It's just a matter of stringing enough games together and he'll be playing for Australia for a very long time."
While Cummins' return to the Australian team in all formats appears to be a formality based on his continued fitness, Coulter-Nile knows the final personally gives him an opportunity to force his way back into the Australian ODI squad.
Coulter-Nile took 3 for 34 in his last appearance for Australia - against England in January - and, as one of the form bowlers in Australian cricket, he is another player who could pique the interest of selectors.
Coulter-Nile has taken 13 wickets from four matches in this competition and claimed Man-of-the-Match honours in Western Australia's past two matches, including against Victoria where he picked up 5 for 26.
"It's a blessing for Australia that there are so many good fast bowlers," Coulter-Nile said. "But it's not so much of a good thing when you're trying to get a spot and there are only three quicks that can play. It all comes down to form and injury I guess.
Form and injuries to other players put Coulter-Nile within touch of an Australian Test debut last summer, when he spent a significant amount of time with the Australian Test squad during the Ashes as cover for Australia's fast bowling contingent.
"I learned that the three quicks we've got playing there are outstanding players and the level you have to be playing at is a lot higher than I initially thought," Coulter-Nile admitted. "Watching blokes like Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle bowl, they give nothing away and they give 100 percent for 30 overs a day. From where I was at last year, I knew there was a long way to go."
The selector Mark Waugh has earmarked Coulter-Nile as a Test bowler-in-waiting, and just how far he has come will become apparent in the next couple of months. In the meantime, there's a drought to break. For one state, or another.
Melinda Farrell is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo