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Victoria look to kick on after season of development

There was just one Shield victory last summer, but it was the start of a rebuilding phase for coach Chris Rogers

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Mitch Perry picked up five wickets against New South Wales last season  •  Getty Images

Mitch Perry picked up five wickets against New South Wales last season  •  Getty Images

Captain Peter Handscomb
Coach Chris Rogers
October 27-30: New South Wales (Sheffield Shield), Drummoyne Oval
November 5-8: New South Wales (Sheffield Shield), MCG
November 12: New South Wales (Marsh Cup), MCG
Winter moves
James Seymour, who made his Sheffield Shield debut at the end of last season, earned his first contract in a squad of minimal changes. Victoria put significant faith in youth during the 2020-21 campaign and will hope that brings dividends this season.
R=Rookie, CA=Australia contract
Scott Boland, Brody Couch (R), Xavier Crone, Travis Dean, Sam Elliott (R), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch (CA), Jake Fraser-McGurk, Seb Gotch, Peter Handscomb, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Jon Holland, Tom Jackson (R), Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell (CA), Cameron McClure (R), Jonathan Merlo, Todd Murphy (R), Tom O'Connell, Fergus O'Neill (R), Wil Parker, James Pattinson (CA), Mitchell Perry, Will Pucovski, James Seymour, Matt Short, Will Sutherland.
Last season
As with this summer, Victoria had a delayed start to the Sheffield Shield last season due to the need to quarantine in Adelaide. When they did get on the park their early encounters were dominated by the extraordinary run-scoring of Will Pucovski who made back-to-back double centuries. Victoria could not force a win in either of those games, but when the tournament resumed in February a young team secured a notable victory over New South Wales at the SCG with 20-year-old Mitch Perry making an impression. That would be their only win of the season although they were strongly placed against Tasmania before rain ruined the final day chase. Outside of Pucovski and Marcus Harris, captain Peter Handscomb made 511 runs at 46.45. With the ball, Scott Boland was outstanding with 30 wickets at 24.00, bending his back on some flat surfaces. In the Marsh Cup things never got going for them but they avoided last place by beating South Australia.
Player to watch
Having both played all eight matches last season, Perry and Will Sutherland will be looking to further establish themselves in the pace attack. They shared eight wickets in the win over New South Wales and each claimed the scalp of Steve Smith. With some uncertainty over when James Pattinson will be available they will have an important role to play. Sutherland will also be looking for an uptick in his batting returns. Sam Elliott, the son of former Test opener Matthew, and legspinner Wil Parker have also been included in the first squad of the season.
Australia radar
Will Pucovski will miss the opening match as he recovers from another concussion while his shoulder is still not fully functioning after reconstructive surgery. He is facing a short timeframe to make his Ashes case. Marcus Harris is the incumbent Test opener from the Gabba against India in January. Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson are some way down the pecking order. Pattinson would have been firmly in the mix but announced his retirement from international cricket last week.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo