Brisbane Grade Cricket is back with some of the city’s – and the state’s – best cricketers taking to the field for the start of the 2020-21 season.
The return, thanks to Queensland Cricket’s endorsement of Cricket Australia’s Return to Play Guidelines in August, makes Brisbane’s competition the first of the Australian premier state competitions to begin for the season, as other states remain on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Not only that, but the uncertainty around international and state-level cricket caused by COVID-19 border closures has benefitted the Brisbane competition, enabling some of Queensland’s best cricketers to take part in proceedings this season.
Australian capped players Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw were all available to feature in round one, giving the competition a boost for this season.
The Return to Play Guidelines have resulted in some slight changes in how training and matches proceed, meaning cricket as most fans know it will look a little different this season.
According to the guidelines, the ball must be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe every 40 minutes during play.
In addition, the fielding team cannot use saliva to shine the ball and umpires will no longer be allowed to hold bowlers’ hats during overs.
The competition returned successfully on September 5, with all twelve clubs, including teams from both the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast regions, entering teams.
Round one saw a classic battle of north versus south when South Brisbane took on Northern Suburbs at Fehlberg Park.
The matchup featured plenty of star talent with Queensland representatives Joe Burns and Nathan McSweeney playing for Norths, while Souths boasted former Australian T20 representatives, Ben Cutting and Gurinder Sandhu.
Souths set a below-par total of 187 batting first with Cutting starring with the bat blasting 68 from just 64 deliveries.
At 6-86 during the chase, still requiring a further 100 runs, Norths looked out of the match.
However, impressive tail-end batting from Connor Sully and former Australian spinner Nathan Hauritz saw Norths chase down the total with 10 balls and two wickets to spare.
Souths head coach and former Australian cricketer Kepler Wessels said despite being in the game his side didn’t have enough runs on the board.
“We were probably about 30 runs short… it was a good fightback with the ball, and in the field, so I’m happy with that,” he said.
Wessels said the standard of the competition had raised with the inclusion of Queensland players like Cutting and Burns.
“It makes a massive difference; it raises the standard of the whole competition,” he said.
“It’s good for everyone to play under a lot more pressure.”
In other first-round action across the Queensland Premier competition, last year’s grand finalists, Ipswich, secured victory against Wynnum-Manly.
Ipswich went to bat first and scored a modest 260 from their 50 overs, despite a healthy start that saw Wynnum only a wicket down with 100 on the board the middle order was not able to anchor the chase falling to 227 all out with Ipswich prevailing by 33 runs.
A star-studded Valleys side featuring Usman Khawaja and Jack Wildermuth defeated a Sandgate-Redcliffe side, which included Australian leg spinner Mitchell Swepson.
Sandgate-Redcliffe set a modest total of 274 from their 50 overs with Queensland batsman Bryce Street scoring 71.
Khawaja showed his class in the run chase with 124 not out, leading Valleys to a comfortable eight-wicket victory.
At Peter Burge Oval, Redlands staked their claim as title contenders, beating competition powerhouses the University of Queensland by five wickets.
Chasing UQ’s score of 225, Redland’s big names led from the front with Queensland captain Jimmy Peirson scoring 53 at the top of the order alongside Simon Milenko who made 83 to secure the win.
Elsewhere, the Gold Coast chased Toombul’s first innings total of 227 with four wickets to spare, while a classy 65 by former Queensland batsmen Sam Truloff led Wests to a 45-run victory over the Sunshine Coast.