Queensland captain and Test opener Usman Khawaja will be rested from the Bulls’ Sheffield Shield match against Victoria as part of a plan to manage national squad players during the summer.
His Test teammate, Victorian bowler Scott Boland, will also skip the match, the second four-day game of the season as part of the “proactive management” plan initiated by Cricket Australia.
Those Test players not at the World Cup, including spinner Todd Murphy, have five rounds of Shield matches to prepare for two upcoming series against Pakistan, which starts in the middle of December, then the West Indies in the second-half of January.
It’s understood all national contracted players will be subject to the load management plans, which hadn’t been flagged before Khawaja‘s omission from the Queensland squad on Thursday.
Khawaja, 36, has played one Shield game and three one-day matches so far in the domestic season making just 61 runs in four innings. BOland took three wickets in the opening Shield match in Perth and has also played two one-day games.
Queensland opener Matthew Renshaw, who is vying to replace David Warner in the Test team for the Pakistan series, is playing against the Vics.
“Ideally you want your captain and best player to be there for every game, but we all know that barring injury, he (Khawaja) will be one of the first bats picked for the Pakistan series, so we understand the rationale behind the decision making process,’’ Bulls coach Wade Seccombe said.
“`Uzzie’ is philosophical about it. He’d be happy to play, but he will also benefit from a more measured build up-ahead of another big international schedule for Australia.
“He’s hitting them well so we shouldn’t be too concerned on that front.”
In Khawaja’s absence, wicket-keeper Jimmy Peirson will captain the Bulls against the Victorians at Mackay’s Great Barrier Reef Arena for the match starting on Saturday.
Ben McDermott has been elevated to Queensland’s 13-man squad and could play a Shield match for the Bulls for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
“What it (Khawaja’s absence) does do is create a great chance for Ben McDermott to make his Shield return for Queensland, as it does for our senior bats like Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns to step things up,” Seccombe said.
The Bulls’ most recent Shield game in Mackay was in the 2015-16 season when Renshaw made his maiden first-class century in Queensland’s three-wicket loss to NSW.
Bulls squad: Jimmy Peirson (c), Joe Burns, Jack Clayton, Liam Guthrie, Matthew Kuhnemann, Ben McDermott, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Gurinder Sandhu, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street, Mitchell Swepson, Jack Wildermuth.