ACT Comets star Mark Higgs at Manuka Oval. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Mark Higgs might be the returning star, but ACT Comets captain Jono Dean insists he's still ''the boss'' when the second round of the Futures League begins in Melbourne on Monday.
Higgs will end his brief retirement from representative cricket to play for the Comets against the Victoria second XI at Junction Oval.
The veteran started the season as the Comets coach, but the chance to chase a contract in the Big Bash League lured the all-rounder back onto the field.
It creates an interesting leadership dynamic, with captain Dean and mentor Higgs both in action. ''He can call the shots off the field, I'll call the shots on the field - I'm still the boss,'' Dean laughed.
''It's good to have Higgs and Benny Oakley coming back in, they add a lot of experience to the side.
''The first game of the season was a lesson for us, and we're expecting everyone to step up. I've been playing with Higgsy for the last five or six years, and it's going to be good to have him back.
''He's a class act … but I'll be the boss on the field.''
The Comets were thrashed by the NSW second XI in their opening game of their Futures League campaign. They lost by an innings and 12 runs, and the game ended a day early.
Dean is confident the return of the two stalwarts will bolster the ACT line-up as it chases victory.
Oakley is widely regarded as the fastest bowler in the Cricket ACT competition, and is capable of reaching 140km/h.
The left-armer is one of many Comets who can catapult themselves onto the Big Bash League radar.
Dean, his brother Blake, Higgs and Oakley all have a chance to impress, and the Comets will return to Melbourne next month for some Twenty20 matches against the Renegades in preparation for the Big Bash season.
''Part of the reason we're going around is the Big Bash,'' Dean said.
''There's a great opportunity there and it adds a good bit of incentive because there's a chance you can get under the selectors' noses.''
All of the Comets players were ordered to rest from Cricket ACT duties yesterday, with the Twenty20 games played around the capital.
Oakley, Beau McClintock and Darren Richards were missing from the Wests-UC line-up in their clash with Illawarra at Kingston Oval.
Joe Cook stepped up as skipper with Oakley travelling to Melbourne and kept Wests-UC's unbeaten Twenty20 record intact.
They made 3-164, with Adam Hewitt the star on 88 not out before restricting Illawarra to 9-150 from their 20 overs.
Cook took his chance with the ball, taking 4-19 from his three overs.
''I don't usually bowl because it's absolute trash medium pace, but I thought I'd give myself a go,'' Cook said. ''We feel like we've got good depth at the club. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves, but there is a good confidence off the back of a few good wins and you want to make winning a habit.''
Futures League: ACT Comets v Victoria second XI at Junction Oval, Melbourne. Play starts at 10.30am.