Victoria ready for travel stint in pursuit of shield

Victorian captain Matthew Wade reckons their influx of Test players for the second half of the season will benefit them not only on the field but off it too in coping with an onerous travel schedule.

The Bushrangers resume their Sheffield Shield campaign on Saturday, away to Queensland. Their necessity to play three home matches interstate, and the lack of suitable training venues unaffected by the World Cup, means they are only due to train in Melbourne twice in the next six weeks. Their playing schedule involves trips to Brisbane, Wagga, Glenelg and Alice Springs.

Victoria’s bid to buttress their position atop the shield ladder should be helped by the availability of James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Chris Rogers for the rest of the season. Wade said the trio would be influential in helping their teammates cope with the travel schedule, as each had completed longer stints on the road with the national team.

“More important than anything is trying to find the time to get away from the game in the next little bit, whether that’s a training day you have off here or there . . . to find time to get away and relax and get your mind off the game,” the captain said.

“It’s as hard a program we’ve seen for a while with all the travel. Luckily enough we’ve got a lot of blokes who’ve done it before with the Australian team and they know how to deal with being away from home and how to get away from the game while you’re on tour. It’s not going to be easy but we’ve got to keep the fun in the game as much as we can.”

When the Bushrangers players reconvened after the Big Bash League the captain’s first move was to remind them, particularly the bowlers, of what they had the chance to achieve in the second half of the season.

“Obviously with where we’re sitting on the table, if we can put a couple of performances together we’re right up there and in with a chance of making the final,” he said.

“I spoke to the bowlers as soon as we got back together and went through that, that we’ve got two Test bowlers coming back . . . means people who’ve already done a good job are getting pushed out, but that everyone in the next five games is going to get an opportunity with the schedule the way it is.

“It’s good to have competition for spots. It means everyone is going to be firing . . . there’s no room for any complacency.”

Wade said he was proud that younger members of the squad such as Peter Handscomb, Marcus Stoinis and Scott Boland had been so influential in getting the Bushrangers to top spot at the break. He backed all three of them to continue to thrive.

“It’s one of the reasons we’ve gone from a poor year to having a good year right now. That’s not to say that things are going to come easy and roll along because we’ve got three Test blokes coming back, but if our younger players can keep performing . . . at that level our more experienced guys will obviously get the job done as well, and that puts us in good stead,” he said.

Wade is not expecting Pattinson will have any bowling workload restrictions imposed on him in what will be his first appearance in a first-class match for 11 months.

While the Gabba typically favours fast bowling, Wade said he hoped Fawad Ahmed retained his place, declaring the leg-spinner was clearly the best spinner in Australia after Nathan Lyon.

Queensland will have stand-in leaders on and off the field, due to coach Stuart Law’s resignation and captain James Hopes’ withdrawal with a rib injury. Their roles will be filled by assistant coach Justin Sternes and wicketkeeper Chris Hartley. The elevation of all-rounder Simon Milenko to the squad, in place of Hartley, will mean the Bulls could have three debutants for the second time this season. They have also selected 28-year-old batsman Michael Philipson, the younger brother of now-retired batsman Craig Philipson, and 25-year-old Charlie Hemphrey, an all-rounder born in England who has played 2nd XI county cricket.

QUEENSLAND (from): Chris Hartley (c), Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Luke Feldman, Peter Forrest, Peter George, Charlie Hemphrey, Chris Lynn, Simon Milenko, Michael Philipson, Mark Steketee.VICTORIA (from): Matthew Wade (c), Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Daniel Christian, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron White.

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