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TUESDAY 21 November 2000
Andy Bichel reflects on Queensland's form in the lead-up to his Test recall

Hi, it's Andy Bichel here from the XXXX Queensland Bulls.

We've had a solid start to the season winning two out of three Pura Cup games and one from two Mercantile Mutual one day games. Our first outing of the season was a one-day game against South Australia at Allan Border Field at Albion. A great game of cricket, which we only won in the last over. We batted first, and probably did not make enough runs. But, given it was the first game of the season for both teams, we benefited from having the runs on the board and forcing the Redbacks to have to go out and get them. Ashley Noffke bowled the last over to win us the game - it was great to see him do well and win the player of the match award.

An unusual start to the Pura Cup season when we played WA in Perth, a tough assignment to start even though we have played well there in recent years. The one good thing was that the teams were at full strength, so it proved an excellent test for both sides. We batted first on a good wicket. Stuart Law and Jimmy Maher batted sensationally - both getting centuries. Jimmy played with a straight bat and it was close to the best I had ever seen him play. We bowled really well all game, and in the first innings we had WA out for 180-odd. Adam Dale picked up five wickets on the flattest WACA wicket we have ever played on in Perth. The second innings was going to be tough for us as we needed an early breakthrough which we got but, when Simon Katich and Adam Gilchrist came together, it was another story. They both played unbelievably well to bat out the final day. Katich played very patiently, leaving a lot of balls. I think he faced just under 400 balls for his 100, a time-consuming innings but exactly what WA needed. Gilly batted well, patient early and, once the danger period was over, he was on a roll. He played well for his 100. We persisted all day trying different things, throwing everything at them on that flat WACA wicket. Nonetheless, coming away with two points was still a good result for us and at no stage did we look like losing the game.

Our next challenge was a one-day game against a full strength NSW line up at Bankstown. It was a good game of cricket but we simply didn't score enough runs, scrambling in the late overs to make 247. Martin Love played well for us scoring 84 with some delightful shots off his hip and he even almost hit the Mercantile Mutual sign - there's no doubt that we are getting closer to that! It was very disappointing to lose the game and to surrender Adam Dale to injury the day before. We play them again when they are at full strength, as hopefully we will be, so we're looking forward to that clash at the Gabba.

Our first Pura Cup game of the season at Allan Border Field was against Tassie. Probably one of the strongest sides Tasmania have had for quite some time, and a well balanced side at that. They batted first on another flat Albion wicket and, like always, the first thirty overs are important when you're bowling. We didn't bowl extremely well but, in saying that, Ricky Ponting was definitely in good touch. His driving down the ground was solid and he was picking up anything that was short and putting it away to the boundary.

When it was our turn to bat we weren't very disciplined at all. It is a different game chasing large totals, and we chased the wider balls which got us into a little trouble. Just about everyone got off to a good start but didn't go on with it. The one good thing was that we scored very quickly - a factor which kept us in the game. We lost the first innings (trailing by 112 runs) and probably should have been out of the game. We had nothing to lose and everything to gain going into the second innings, though, with our backs against the wall. We bowled really well under the conditions and simply tried to restrict Ricky Ponting in the second after he had made his highest first-class score in the first innings. We bowled outside off with an 8-1 field and, after five and half hours, they were 5/177 at the end of the day's play. We had worked ourselves back into the game a little. Now Tassie were not only running the risk of losing some early wickets on the final day but also needing to score quickly so they could set us a large total with plenty of overs to bowl us out.

Then we started batting; it was all about survival at the start and Tasmania made a couple of early breakthroughs, until the greatest run chase ever - at least in Queensland cricket history. Martin Love and Andrew Symonds were unbelievable. At tea-time nobody was thinking of what was about to happen. An awesome display by the two batsmen in their run chase that I will remember forever. If matches keep happening like that, then cricket will be the greatest game at all levels.

© AllSport & ACB
Jimmy Maher forged another century against the Bushrangers
© AllSport & ACB
The Bushrangers (Victoria)-Bulls clash was a replay of last year's final at Albion. It was our last game there too so we were keen to keep our record in tact and not lose a game at the venue. The first day was a very patient day for both sides (nobody really assumed the advantage) and the wicket was good. They were really watchful all day. On day two we had the new ball and overcast conditions so we made the most of it and bowled them out for 249 - a good morning's work for us. It was not an easy pitch on which to take wickets and we got our noses in front and never looked back. It was an excellent game for us. Matthew Hayden had a wonderful match with 80 & 100 not out coming into some good form just before the Test series and Jimmy Maher produced another wonderful century, continuing his good form.

To be on fourteen points after three tough games and lead the Pura Cup competition represents a great start to the season for us, especially in view of the fact that we have made a few changes to our side. Clinton Perren has been playing ahead of Geoff Foley and Mick Kasprowicz and Scott Muller have been on the injury list, giving Ashley Noffke and Lee Carseldine an opportunity to show their wares. Unfortunately, Ashley also joined the injured list after only a couple of games.

Well, the one-day game against the Western Warriors didn't get off the ground. As players, we felt very embarrassed for the situation in which we were put. We went into the game well prepared and with great intentions and a good plan, only to have it called off. Hopefully, the match can be rescheduled for a date later in the year. It was a real pity for Scott O'Leary, who was making his debut for Queensland, and Gavin Fitness, who received the go-ahead to play after flying over at the last minute to be on stand-by for Wade Seccombe. I'm sure, though, that there will be another chance for them to show us their wares.

Until next time, enjoy your cricket.

Andy Bichel

  More Postcards
TUESDAY 10 October 2000
Andy Bichel looks at what's in store for the Bulls in 2000-01