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Ashes hopefuls start season in style

September 18, 2017

Usman Khawaja was in fine form for Valleys on the weekend // Queensland Cricket

By Adam Burnett

Khawaja and Carey shine with big runs in respective competitions over the weekend

Ashes hopefuls Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey have found form ahead of the domestic season, with both batsmen completing impressive doubles in Brisbane and Adelaide respectively over the weekend.

Khawaja was run-out for 79 from 85 deliveries in Valleys' loss to Wests on Saturday, but saved his best for the Sunday, when he smashed 162 (136), with 17 fours and five sixes in his team's win over Wynnum-Manly. The big hundred was just five runs short of Matthew Hayden's club record score of 167 in the one-day premier competition, while Khawaja even took 2-17 with the ball to complete a dominant weekend, with Bulls teammate Jack Wildermuth taking 3-23 in the same match. 

In Adelaide, Carey, the wicketkeeper-batsman who has been whispered in some sections of the media as an Ashes bolter, turned in two outstanding performances: he made 117 off 106 for Southern Force against Northern Mavericks on the Saturday; on the Sunday, he blazed 140 from 111 balls (11x4s, 5x6s), teaming up with Redbacks rookie Jake Winter (89 off 75) to help their side chase down 289 with nine overs to spare against Northern Mavericks.

Bulls blazing in Brisbane

Elsewhere in the Queensland Premier Cricket Competition, Joe Burns made 48 in Norths' loss to Sandgate, and followed it up with 59 not out in a comfortable run chase against the Gold Coast on Sunday. 

Promising 24-year-old Sam Truloff made an unbeaten 123 from 124 deliveries to take Wests to victory, then backed it up on the Sunday with 94 from 116 in another win, this time over the Sunshine Coast. 

In other matches, Michael Neser made 94 batting at No.4 in Gold Coast's win against Redlands, joining forces with Australia Under-19s batsman Max Bryant, who smashed 134 off 92 balls (14x4s and 7x6s) against Redlands, for whom Sam Heazlett made 83 from 63 deliveries. 

On the Sunday, Charlie Hemphrey made 60 in Sandgate-Redcliffe's win over Ipswich-Logan, with Mitch Swepson taking 3-26 from 10 overs.

Toombul's Matt Renshaw (62) and Redlands' Marnus Labuschagne (60) top scored for their respective sides on Sunday, though the young Aussie opener will likely be having the last laugh despite defeat, after trapping his state teammate lbw – one of three wickets Renshaw took with his off-spinners across the weekend, including that of another Queensland teammate in Heazlett. 

Redbacks run riot in Adelaide 

South Australia's contracted batsmen filled their boots in six Westend Redbacks League 50-over matches played across the weekend, with Kelvin Smith (67), Jake Lehmann (50 & 68), Callum Ferguson (88 & 91) and Cameron Valente (54 &55) all tuning up for the season ahead with at least one half-century for Western Grit, while Darwin product Jake Weatherald posted 50 and 52 in his two trips to the middle for Northern Territory. 

For Eastern Edge, Alex Ross hammered a spectacular 119 from just 49 deliveries, with 10 fours and 10 sixes as his side racked up 3-339 from their 50 overs against Papua New Guinea, who fell 33 runs short of their target. 

Ross was another to impress not once but twice, managing 82 off 78 on the Sunday after his whirlwind Saturday hundred. 

Young leg-spinner Lloyd Pope, who has earned a rookie contract with the Redbacks this season, took 3-51, and backed it up with 3-30 against NT on the Sunday, while Nick Benton grabbed 3-49 on the Saturday. 

Veteran Redback Tom Cooper made a splendid 162 (11x4s, 8x6s) on the Sunday for Mavericks to round out a productive weekend for the Redbacks batting group.