FORMER Test batsman Nic Maddinson, from Nowra, is set to take his first step towards what he hopes will be an international comeback when he lines up for Victoria in the JLT domestic one-day series, beginning on Sunday.
The tournament will start early this year and finish on October 10, giving the national selectors a chance to analyse talent ahead of the home one-day international series against South Africa in November.
Maddinson, who played three Tests in 2016 (27 runs at 6.75) and four Twenty20 internationals for Australia in Zimbabwe this year, was cut by NSW over winter. He does not have a state contract with Victoria, for his axing came after Victoria had settled on its list. He was a marquee signing by the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, with Victoria opting to give him a reprieve through the domestic one-day series. Once that is completed, he will play Premier cricket for St Kilda.
He has adjusted his outlook in recent times, becoming "more settled" with his style of play, and was as relaxed as anyone at Victoria's intra-squad match at the Junction Oval on Wednesday.
The left-hander had a recent stint with County side Surrey and has been used in the top four during Victoria's practice matches. He appears in line to take on Queensland in Townsville on Sunday.
"Definitely playing Test cricket again," Maddinson replied when asked about his ambition.
"I don't think I was ever at my best when I was given the opportunity. I think I have the skill to be back playing Test cricket again. It's just putting into play a lot of runs in Shield cricket when I get an opportunity there again, and probably just changing my approach to the game.
"I feel like I have played eight years for NSW and I am 26, hopefully heading into the best part of my career and can take advantage of that."
There will also be interest through the JLT series in schoolboy leg-spinner Tom O'Connell, lured to Victoria by a three-year contract, allrounder Will Sutherland and emerging batsman Mackenzie Harvey, who enjoyed scores of 130 and 80 through the pre-season. He is the nephew of former Australian allrounder, Ian Harvey.
Peter Handscomb will return to captain the side after struggling for runs on the Australia A tour of India, Glenn Maxwell will have a point to prove after missing Test selection but Victoria will be without Aaron Finch, Peter Siddle and Jon Holland, who will head into camp with the Test squad ahead of the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
South Australian O'Connell, 18, had to spend time through winter travelling to and from his home state to complete year 12 at school. He has yet to even play a state second-grade match but veteran batsman Cameron White said O'Connell had shown a lot of promise.
"It's a bit of an unusual turn of events for him at the start of the preseason for him to come over and join the squad," White said.
"(He's) not a sharp turner yet - he might become that. He bowls slowly so he's got a chance to bowl big leggies eventually – (he) can turn the ball, has a good wrong'un and bowls with a fair bit of overspin at the moment. It's a great opportunity for him along with some of the guys."
Fast bowler and new father James Pattinson is on the mend after a setback from back surgery, with the former Test quick suffering a hip flexor injury. He spent most of the practice match riding a stationary bike.
Victoria 2018 JLT One-Day Cup squad: Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Sebastian Gotch, Peter Handscomb ©, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Tom O’Connell, Matt Short, Will Sutherland, Chris Tremain and Cameron White.
Victoria 2018 JLT One-Day Cup fixtures
September 16 – Queensland vs Victoria at Riverway Stadium, Townsville
September 19 – Tasmania vs Victoria at Riverway Stadium, Townsville
September 23 – New South Wales vs Victoria at North Sydney Oval, Sydney
September 26 – Victoria vs Western Australia at CitiPower Centre, Melbourne
September 30 – Victoria vs South Australia at CitiPower Centre, Melbourne
October 3 – qualifying final (3 vs 6) at North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 4 – qualifying final (4 vs 5) at Drummoyne Oval, Sydney
October 6 – semi-final at Drummoyne Oval, Sydney
October 7 – semi-final at CitiPower Centre, Melbourne
October 10 – final at CitiPower Centre, Melbourne