The 2018 JLT One-Day Cup has reached the semi-finals stage. The unique format adopted this season saw every team play each other once with the two top teams automatically qualifying for the semis. The other four teams were then sent into a sudden-death qualifying final to win their spot in the semis. It meant that in theory, a team could win the wooden spoon for finishing bottom of the table, and still go on to win the championship. Whether that’s a great situation is certainly up for debate, but it does feel that this year’s series has had more interest with the cricket community than in past seasons.
We take a closer look at the two semi-finals and provide our JLT Cup betting tips below.
The first semi final will see Tasmania take on Queensland on Saturday afternoon at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney. Tasmania were the surprise packet of the preliminary matches as they had done enough to qualify for the semi finals, even before they took on WA in their final game. One poor run chase against New South Wales was their only real blemish for the season with their no frills batting and bowling line up doing the job. Ben McDermott has been the standout of the season, leading all run scorers in the tournament during the preliminary games with a couple of very impressive centuries. Having shed 9kgs in the off-season, McDermott might be the break out star of the summer ahead. He’s been well supported by Matthew Wade, Jordan Silk and George Bailey, while the underrated attack has been well led by Jackson Bird.
The Queenslanders are a chance to make history after picking up the wooden spoon with just one victory in their first five games. However they turned their form around in the qualifying final against South Australia. Strong contributions from Sam Heazlett, Chris Lynn, Joe Burns and Jimmy Pierson saw the Bulls amass 363 which South Australia couldn’t quite reach. It’s a dynamic batting line up that’s well supported by the experience of Billy Stanlake and leggie Mitch Swepson with the ball. The weakness of Queensland is their depth, as their fourth and fifth string bowlers are vulnerable, and they don’t have a lot of bowling options if things go wrong.
Ultimately, Tasmania will be desperate to get Lynn out early as he’s going to make or break this game. If Lynn gets off the leash then the Bulls are capable of anything, but if Lynn can be contained, then the Tigers will fancy their chances of reaching the final. Tassie come into the match as slight favourites, which offers a little value on Queensland to record another upset.
Western Australia would finish undefeated from their first five matches to claim top spot on the ladder. The depth of their squad is amazing, with international fringe players such as Darcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye and Jhye Richardson, all performing well which means they really have no weaknesses. The highlight of the season so far was Darcy Short’s blistering 257 off 148 balls which included a staggering 23 sixes. The tiny Hurstville Oval in Sydney just couldn’t contain him! His destructive batting power means that any target is achievable for this WA outfit.
They come up against Victoria in the second semi final at Junction Oval in Melbourne on Sunday. The Victorian team looks stacked paper, but they underperformed during the preliminary games to only win two of their five matches to sit in fourth place. They were due to play a qualifying final against New South Wales on Thursday, but persistent rain meant the game was abandoned without a ball being bowled and Victoria advanced as the higher-ranked team. Incredibly, if NSW had scored just one more run when the two sides played earlier in the season, then they would’ve finished higher and would’ve gone through to the semis.
So the Vics are probably feeling pretty fortunate but there’s no doubt their team is capable of an upset. Cameron White was set to miss the game on Thursday through injury, so there is a cloud over him, but the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscombe, Marcus Harris and Nic Maddinson form a batting order that can chase down any target. The Vics have underperformed with the ball, with fringe Australian players Chris Tremain and Scott Boland struggling to find their best. However young Jackson Coleman looks a player of the future as he has stepped up this season. Fawad Ahmed has also come back into the lineup to bring an experience spin option.
It’s impossible to tip against Western Australia here. They have been the form side of the competition and have stars in every department. The Vics will need to be on to make a game of it, but if their batting struggles, then it’s game over.
The two winners of the semis will take on each other in the final on Wednesday October 10th at Junction Oval in Melbourne.
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