BATHURST’S best rising stars are out in force once again as the Mitchell Cricket Council’s representative season gets underway this Sunday.
The Bathurst District Junior Cricket Association comes into a new season as the defending under 12s and 14s champion, while its 16s team was runner-up.
Now the challenge is to see how well the teams can back up those strong finishes when they take on Mudgee in the opening round.
Last season’s under 16s coach Richard Newell is dropping back to work with the 12s squad this season and is looking forward to working with the younger crew.
“The good thing about back to the under 12s is seeing all that unbridled energy and it’s really great to be around those kids who are wide-eyed and bushy tailed,” he said.
"By 16s the players have usually been around a few rep teams but for these guys it’s a whole new experience. It's really interesting going back to 12s because you can forget what that starting point is like for them.
“We’ve got some work to do to get the kids to where we want them by the end of this season and the focus will be on getting the kids to learn from their mistakes.”
Under 12s is often the first representative experience for Bathurst juniors and, in an exciting change for Newell, it means he goes into the competition relatively blind of what Mitchell’s other teams in the age group have to offer.
“With other age groups who are usually aware of who the other team’s strongest players are. Unless you’ve got a couple of players who are returning in under 12s you won’t know much about the other teams,” he said.
Newell said the Bathurst 14s and 16s will be confident of building on last year’s excellent results.
"I think the 14s and 16s are fairly strong squads this season. The 14s have come back from the Max Shepparton Shield last weekend and they had a good experience there,” he said.
“History Bathurst and Orange have been the stronger teams in this competition, with Mudgee maybe a step below, but in 14s in particular they will have several strong players this season.”
Wal Brien and David Curry will be coaching the Bathurst under 14s team this season while Shane Broes and Phil Cant will be coaching the under 16s.
Bathurst’s second round of action in the Mitchell competition, for all grades, will be against the Blue Mountains on October 30.