Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here
Ben Cutting, the Queensland fast bowler, has been ruled out of the Sheffield Shield final. Cutting missed Queensland's last game due to a groin injury and was named in a 13-man squad for the final against Tasmania, which starts at the Gabba on Friday, but the Bulls confirmed on the eve of the match he would not play.
Cutting bowled in the nets on Thursday and while he got through training, Queensland felt his lack of match bowling in the past fortnight was a concern, and that playing him in a five-day final could still be risky. The Bulls are expected to name Ryan Harris, Steve Magoffin, Alister McDermott and Cameron Boyce as their attack, although Luke Feldman is also in the squad and could be considered.
Tasmania also have a decision to make regarding the make-up of their attack, with three men from their 14-man squad fighting for one spot. Jackson Bird, Luke Butterworth and James Faulkner will be included alongside the spinner Jason Krejza, but the assistant coach Ali de Winter said there was competition for one more place.
"We think we've got an attack that can exploit the conditions up here whether it's flat or has a bit of grass on it," de Winter told ESPNcricinfo. "We've got good diversity. We've got a left-armer in Faulkner, we've got Krejza who's bowling very well in the last couple of weeks, and then we've got an issue with who we pick for our fourth seaming spot, whether it's Jeremy Smith or Brendan Drew or Matt Johnston."
The Gabba pitch has spent plenty of time under cover over the past few days due to rain in Brisbane and showers have been forecast for all five days of the match. However, given the likelihood that the pitch will favour the bowlers, de Winter does not expect a draw, which would deliver the title to Queensland after they finished on top of the table.
"Given we get at least three or four days of cricket here one team or another will win," he said. "There will certainly be a result in the game. Both teams are in good form and playing an attacking brand of cricket. It will be an exciting game if nothing else."
Tasmania are the defending champions and are aiming to win their third Shield title in six years, while the Bulls will be desperate to improve their conversion rate having won the title only once in the past nine years despite making the final six times. Chris Hartley and James Hopes are the only Queensland players to have played in a title-winning side, in 2005-06.
It will also be an opportunity for Ricky Ponting to win a domestic title for the first time in a state career spanning 20 seasons. Ponting, the acting captain for Tasmania while George Bailey is with the ODI squad in the Caribbean, has not played in a Shield final since 1993-94, and enters this match in fine form, having scored 75 not out, 130 and 111 in his three domestic innings since being axed from Australia's one-day international side.
Queensland squad Wade Townsend, Alex Kemp, Andrew Robinson, Joe Burns, Chris Lynn, James Hopes (capt), Chris Hartley (wk), Ryan Harris, Steve Magoffin, Luke Feldman, Cameron Boyce, Alister McDermott.
Tasmania squad Ed Cowan, Steve Cazzulino, Ricky Ponting (capt), Alex Doolan, Mark Cosgrove, Nick Kruger, Tom Triffitt (wk), Luke Butterworth, James Faulkner, Matt Johnston, Jason Krejza, Brendan Drew, Jackson Bird, Jeremy Smith.
Tasmania vs Queensland
Australian Domestic Season