The Sydney University players currently in Brisbane for the Australian Universities Limited Overs Challenge can expect to see a familiar face in unfamiliar colours – Scott Henry, their old team-mate, will be turning out for the University of Queensland in today's deciding final round clash.
Henry, a left handed top-order batsman, moved to Queensland in the off season after he was de-listed by the New South Wales Blues despite, in the last two seasons, scoring 972 Sheffield Shield runs at an average of 33 – a solid effort which included a maiden first-class century, 142 against South Australia in Adelaide last season. But competition for places in the Blues squad is always intense, and became even hotter with the emergence of Henry’s University team-mate Nick Larkin and Ed Cowan’s return to Sydney. The nature of the modern professional game is that players change employers when the need arises: and Henry decided that his future lay in Brisbane.
“It wasn’t so much the cricket side of it,” he admits, “but the lifestyle in Brisbane really appealed to me. At the moment it’s going well – I’m coaching for one of the private schools, and preparing for the Grade season.” There have been no promises from the Queensland Bulls selectors – “nothing in concrete, anyway, and that’s what you’d expect” but there’s no doubt that they’re happy to have such a well-credentialed player applying pressure on the incumbents. There’s a reasonably strong chance that Queensland will lose two of its established top-order players, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja, to the Australian side this season, so opportunities are likely to arise, and none of the other contenders can match Henry's track record.
Henry earned his first contract with the Blues in 2008-09 on the back of several excellent innings for Sydney University. In 2010-11 he showed his appetite for the big occasion by winning the Benaud Medal as man of the match in the Sydney First Grade final and the Bevan Medal as player of the match in the Sydney Limited Overs final. He made his Sheffield Shield debut the following season against Victoria in Sydney. Selected for the CA Chairman's XI against the touring Sri Lankans in 2012-13 he seized the opportunity with both hands, compiling an unbeaten 207. He hit another double century, for University, in the opening round of the 2013-14 Grade season.
In his 107 First Grade matches for University Scott hit 3850 runs at 40.10, as well as snaring 16 wickets with some of the slowest left arm spinners ever seen in Sydney.
The Queensland selectors have told Scott that "if I put the performances on the board, I might get a chance. That's OK - it's a performance-based sport and you're judged on what you do, so all I need to do now is score some runs." He plans on starting next week against his former team mates. There will, Henry expects, "be a few sledges", but the fact is that they want him to succeed too - just not against the Blue and Gold.
After another stunning performance against Melbourne Uni yesterday, the SUCC vs UQCC clash will decide the tournament at WEP Harris Oval at The University of Queensland, St Lucia.
UPDATE: SUCC in the field with UQCC currently 2-160 in the 30th over... big chase looms this afternoon.