It’s time for cricket’s ultimate State of Origin grudge match – East vs West instead of ho-hum Tests

As we grind into the 40th or so match of this World Cup, the cricket merry-go-round continues.

After India (probably) hoist the World Cup, Australia are due to play a five-match T20 series against them straight after, for reasons only known to Cricket Australia, the BCCI and their broadcast partners. Then we get to Australia’s summer of cricket.

Joining us this season is Pakistan and the West Indies. If this was 1984 and we were treated to Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and any number of terrifying Windies quicks, plus a god-like side order of Imran Khan and the feisty Javed Miandad, this summer would be a mouth-watering prospect.

But instead we get Pakistan continuing their decades long journey of flattering to deceive on these shores, plus a West Indies team that does not even qualify for major international tournaments anymore.

This summer is badly in need of something more, something with true feeling. A heavyweight battle for the ages between teams determined to test themselves against the best, plus fan bases who hold enduring grudges.

So let’s drop the international calendar to a bare minimum and I present to you a three “Test” series that we can all get behind: State of Origin: Western Australia vs New South Wales.

You know you want it, even as a neutral, this would be unmissable.

In the Western Corner we have the most dominant domestic team of the past decade and maybe even of all time.

In the Eastern corner we have Australia’s largest cricketing state, exporting truckloads of players to the international team and to all other state teams as well.

Finally we could answer all the big questions. Is the NSW bowling attack all they are cracked up to be? Are Western Australia all that good or do they just win because none of their players have to go and represent their country (except in Cameron Green’s case to go and not represent his country).

By the way, I don’t include Marcus Stoinis in that equation – the Aussies are doing you a favour there Western Australia!

Cameron Green. (Photo by Matt Roberts – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Would NSW be completely dominant at Sheffield Shield level, rather than completely hopeless, if only they had Steve Smith and friends and could hoover all their diaspora back from around the country.

I envisage a three “Test” series, with a game each in Perth and Sydney and a decider at the MCG (because Victoria is the sporting capital of the world remember, and otherwise they will feel very left out).

The respective teams might looking something like this (injuries permitting):

Western Australia:
Cameron Bancroft
Marcus Harris
Teague Wylie
Cameron Green
Mitchell Marsh
Josh Inglis
Aaron Hardie
Jhye Richardson
Joel Paris
Corey Rocchiccioli
Lance Morris

I am happy to defer to my WA friends here. Is there a spot for Ashton Turner or Ashton Agar, or are the Ashtons just not required? What about Mitch Marsh over Hilton Cartwright? Is Inglis or Phillipe the better Josh? Are you happy for Marcus Harris to return or do you reject the traitor to keep Sam Whiteman?

New South Wales:
David Warner
Usman Khawaja
Steve Smith
Nic Maddinson
Moises Henriques
Sean Abbott
Matthew Gilkes
Pat Cummins
Mitchell Starc
Josh Hazlewood
Nathan Lyon

The questions for New South Wales might be just how the Origin eligibility is determined. Queensland keeper Jimmy Peirson was born over the southern border, but debuted in the Sunshine State. He would be a handy pick-up behind the stumps. Even Jake Doran might squeeze into the team if the criteria is birthplace.

Other State of Origin options for New South Wales include Charlie Wakim, who is in form for Tasmania, Jordan Silk who was the youngest player to score a century on debut in NSW grade cricket, South Australian opener Henry Hunt and white-ball spin wizard Adam Zampa. I feel like I’ve missed a significant option or two, but my 10 minutes of research hasn’t born further fruit.

Steve Smith. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Looking at these two sides, obviously New South Wales have great strength in their bowling attack and top-order batting. Like the national team, however it is looking a little long in the tooth, plus the middle order is a weakness for certain. How will their pensioners go against the fire of Lance Morris and friends?

As always Western Australia are spoiled for choice when it comes to all-rounders, so the problem will be who doesn’t get a bowl (not Cameron Green surely. Imagine the uproar!). The batting is solid with some fine up and comers and a few Shield stalwarts, rather than out and out intimidating.

So, would you pay to see this series rather than yet another round of feeling sorry for the West Indies? And who would win? The only thing for sure would be that it would be played with feeling.

For me? Well I think Queensland would smash the lot of them! Even if we had to give Usman back to NSW, and Marnus back to South Africa, and Michael Neser back there as well, and Peirson to NSW, and … never mind.

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