The Commonwealth Bank Victorian Bushrangers have announced their 2017-18 squad ahead of the upcoming domestic season.
Peter Handscomb is the new captain of Victoria, leading a squad of 30 players aiming to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive JLT Sheffield Shield title and the JLT One Day Cup.
“It’s an absolute honour and privilege to be named captain of Victoria, and something I take a lot of pride in,” said Handscomb.
“To be able to lead such a strong and successful team that has won three Sheffield Shield titles in a row is an amazing opportunity.
“Following in the footsteps of some Victorian greats like Bill Lawry and more recently Cameron White and Matthew Wade who have led Victoria to so much success, is exciting.
The defending champions have four Cricket Australia contracted players in the squad in Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson and Handscomb while also elevating fast-bowler Xavier Crone, young wicketkeeper Sam Harper and batsman Blake Thomson to full contracts this season.
Harper became the first-choice wicketkeeper last year while Matthew Wade was away on national duties before injury ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
Cricket Victoria General Manager of Cricket Shaun Graf said the squad balance was designed to maintain Victoria’s outstanding recent level of success.
“Our ongoing focus has been on developing players ready for Australian selection while also being highly competitive at domestic level. The results clearly show we’re achieving this goal with 13 Victorians representing Australia across all formats in the same period we’ve won three straight Sheffield Shield titles.”
New members of the Bushrangers squad are teenager Will Pucovski on a full contract, as well as Zak Evans, Mitch Perry and Will Sutherland on rookie contracts.
17 year-old Sutherland is a talented right-arm quick with an ability to wield the willow, and has represented Australia at an Under-19s level.
Pucovski earned a contract off the back of an impressive rise last year, where the teenager broke the record for runs scored at the Under-19 National Championships and later made his first-class debut for Victoria at the MCG against New South Wales in February.
Zak Evans and Mitch Perry are both right-arm quicks who have consistently impressed through the Victorian pathway, and more recently earned selections in the Australian Under-19s side to face Sri Lanka last April.
Six members from last year’s squad will not return this season. Matthew Wade has returned to Tasmania and Marcus Stoinis has returned to Western Australia while Michael Beer, Evan Gulbis, Ian Holland and Rob Quiney were not offered contracts for the 2017-18 season.
“Although we’ve lost some senior experience for this season, we’re fortunate to have a number of our younger players having gained valuable experience over the last two years and they know what it takes to be successful at first-class level,” said Graf.
“Add young stars Will Pucovski and Will Sutherland to that mix and it’s an exciting time for Victorian cricket – it’s hard to think of a time when we’ve been in a stronger, more successful position in the state’s history.”
Commonwealth Bank Victorian Bushrangers 2017-18 playing list:
Aaron Finch (CA contract)
Peter Handscomb (C) (CA contract)
Glenn Maxwell (CA contract)
James Pattinson (CA contract)
Zak Evans (Rookie contract)
Sam Grimwade (Rookie contract)
Jackson Koop (Rookie contract)
Tom O’Donnell (Rookie contract)
Mitch Perry (Rookie contract)
Will Sutherland (Rookie contract)