WHILE pre-season training is a long and gruelling time of the year, for Queensland Bulls all-rounder Simon Milenko it has been a dream come true.
The 26-year-old is now a full-time cricketer, meaning he no longer has to juggle work as a senior accountant with Central Queensland-based construction and maintenance firm Walz Group.
"Training full-time is pretty full-on but it beats juggling work with playing commitments. And I can't complain when I'm getting paid to keep fit and healthy," Milenko told APN.
After getting a small taste of domestic cricket last summer, the Lismore product is ready for a bumper season.
Milenko impressed for Queensland after making his first-class and one-day debuts last season.
In his debut domestic 50-over game, he hit 54 from just 39 balls against New South Wales, before snaring 2-44 and 3-10 in his only two other games.
Then he smashed 54 from only 51 balls during his Shield debut in February, helping Queensland to an outright victory over eventual champions Victoria.
Don't be surprised if we see more of Milenko this summer - and more good days with both the bat and ball to go with that.
The Hobart Hurricanes certainly saw potential in the all-rounder, signing him up for this summer's Big Bash League. "I got a small taste of it last year and I want more this season," Milenko said. "Being an all-rounder helps - if you miss out with the bat you can do well with the ball."
Milenko could be given another opportunity to prove himself against world-class players when the Bulls open their Matador Cup campaign against Tasmania at North Sydney Oval today.
Australian all-rounder James Faulkner - who was a late call-up for injured quick Pat Cummins in the Test squad which cancelled its trip to Bangladesh - is expected to play for the Tigers.
With Australia's tour off, each state side has been boosted by the return of their star players, particularly NSW which will have its five Test squad members back. NSW will play the Cricket Australia XI at Bankstown Oval today, with South Australia to take on Western Australia at Hurstville.
- JOSH SPASARO
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