HAVING surged high on the Sheffield Shield table on the strength of a Test-quality pace attack, Victoria will have to contend with the same scenario in its match away to New South Wales starting Tuesday.
The blow of losing seamers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle to national-team duty has been compounded by the loss of all-rounder Andrew McDonald to what could be a season-ending hamstring injury. An examination of the injury on Wednesday should determine the treatment required for the 31-year-old, although a stint on the sidelines of at least two months is expected.
Victorian coach Greg Shipperd confirmed surgery was under consideration for McDonald, who was recently appointed Australia A captain.
''He could battle on and play under the duress that he's been playing under with the risk of a major rupture,'' Shipperd said. ''The timing's not great for him but I know he's well respected by us and the national [selection] panel.''
With Clint Mckay also out with a hamstring injury, albeit a minor one, the Bushrangers have chosen untried 20-year-old seamer Louis Cameron as a direct replacement.
Cameron was chosen ahead of contracted swing bowler Scott Boland based largely on a recent five-wicket haul in a 2nd XI fixture against NSW on a docile Junction Oval pitch. He is expected to fill the final spot in the Victorian team ahead of another untried player, leg-spinner James Muirhead.
NSW's pace attack will consist of four Australian representatives - Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Doug Bollinger and Trent Copeland - with support from batting all-rounder Moises Henriques.
With Starc and Hazlewood the next seamers in line for Test selection, a good performance against Victoria at the SCG could put both in the frame for the next two Tests against South Africa.
Wicketkeeper Ryan Carters is set to play his first game of the season, albeit as a specialist batsman. Peter Handscomb opened in place of Rob Quiney in Victoria's last match yet will slide down the order due to his new wicketkeeping duties, which should lead to Carters partnering Chris Rogers at the top of the order against the formidable Blues attack.
Victoria is bullish about pitch conditions suiting slow bowling. As well as all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who bowls off-spin, Victorian captain Cameron White said he was keen to bowl himself in the match more than he had done so far this season.
''The pitch looks a bit drier than what we've seen in the past few weeks, so I look forward to doing a bit of bowling in this game,'' he said.
In Melbourne club cricket at the weekend, White took 5-14 for Richmond with his leg-spin and also made 73. Despite the latter, White will relinquish the No. 3 batting position in this match after a poor start to the season with the bat for the Bushrangers.
NSW (from): O'Keefe (c), Bollinger, Copeland, Dawson, Haddin, Hazlewood, Henriques, Henry, Maddinson, Nevill, Smith, Starc.
VICTORIA (from): White (c), Cameron, Carters, Finch, Handscomb, Hastings, Herrick, Hussey, Keath, Maxwell, Muirhead, Rogers.