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Sheffield Shield 2022-23 – Jimmy Peirson lauds impact of Marnus Labuschagne and Usman Khawaja for Queensland

Chicago’s Bulls had Michael Jordan lifting the standard and Jimmy Peirson says there’s two men doing the same for Queensland’s Bulls.

The in-form wicketkeeper has also revealed the strategic shift designed to catapult team-mate Matt Renshaw back into a baggy green as he continues his own push for a Test debut.

Peirson powered to a fifth first-class century in the last two years as the Bulls beat Tasmania by an innings and 172 runs on Saturday to open the Sheffield Shield season.

His bright innings on the tricky, newly-laid Allan Border Field square followed an unbeaten 128 for Australia A in a successful chase of 367 in Sri Lanka in June. He scored 67 not out in the first innings of that game, only called into the squad as a late replacement.

The state’s youngest-ever Sheffield Shield winning captain when Queensland won the competition in 2018, Peirson is enjoying the presence of Test pair Marnus Labuschagne and regular captain Usman Khawaja to begin their season.

“It’s great having Marnie [Labuschagne] around; you see the problem-solving that goes on while he’s batting, [it] is something I’ve learned from,” he said.

Peirson reserved high praise for Test opener Khawaja and Australia’s No.3 Labuschagne, who scored 72 and 127 respectively in Brisbane last week.

“It just sets good standards, you see how they go about their business and see that’s the level you need to be at to play Test cricket,” he said. “As team-mates we want to be rising to that level. I know when [Michael] Jordan played basketball he spoke about bringing guys along with him, and those guys do that for us.”

While Peirson has been piling on the runs Alex Carey has been making the Test spot his own.

“There’s a lot of keepers doing the job at the moment in Australia; all you can do is worry about your own backyard,” Peirson said of the fight for higher honours. “Kez [Carey] has done a really good job, especially in the subcontinent. He’s earned his position, but there’s no doubt everyone wants that position.”

Peirson isn’t the only Queensland player pushing his case with former Test opener Renshaw and fast bowler Mark Steketee, who had a hat-trick ball dropped in the slips on Saturday, making claims.

Khawaja had pushed long-term opener Renshaw into the middle order when the veteran forced his way back into the Test fold. Now cemented at the top of Australia’s order, Khawaja slid himself back down to No. 4 for Queensland’s season opener so Renshaw could face the new ball.

“Matty has earned his way back up into the opening role with national selectors hopefully looking at him as a future opener for Australia,” Peirson said of the surprise move. “We’re fortunate [to have top-order depth] and Uz is at the point in his career where he scores runs wherever he bats.”

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