It’s often said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but still expecting different results, and that’s exactly why the Central West Wranglers have mixed things up leading into their 2017-18 Plan B Regional Bash campaign.
Central West has been knocked out in the first round of the last two summers’ tournaments by Western Zone rivals Orana Outlaws, but after a change to the competition’s format the Wranglers have appointed a new coach and adopted a more Twenty20-specific selection process too.
Former Cavaliers, Orange and Mitchell Cricket Council skipper Richie Venner – who played in both of Central West’s losses – will mentor the Wranglers outfit, one he’s hoping will be capable of toppling its powerhouse Thunder Conference rivals at next weekend’s carnival in Orange.
Venner said he and his fellow selectors will confirm the Wranglers squad in the next few days after putting more emphasis on identifying potential players who suit the shortest format, a heavier focus on the Royal Hotel Cup has been integral to that plan.
It’s the region’s premier T20 league and considering it features players from across the Wranglers’ catchment area it makes sense to use it as a selection tool, Venner said.
“This is essentially the Mitchell side now, with no Inter-Council cricket being played, so why wouldn’t we use the best T20 competition in the area to help pick this side?,” he asked, rhetorically.
“We’ve had squads full of great cricketers before but that doesn’t necessarily mean they suit this format, and there’s been guys destroying the [Royal Hotel] Cup who haven’t really had a look-in.
“Unfortunately some of the guys we identified as potential players aren’t available, which is why it’s taken a little longer for us to confirm the squad than we wanted, but I’m still very hopeful the side we’ll put on the paddock will be more than competitive.
“The scores might not suggest it, but the last two years we’ve been close to where we needed to be against Orana and I think this is one way to help Central West get there.”
Helping the Wranglers reach their potential is a big reason Venner stuck his hand up to coach this summer too, rather than play.
“I’ve tried to add something where I could on the field the last two years but I’m not really able to contribute the way I’d like to, outside probably the mentoring side of things,” Venner conceded, injuries have taken their toll in recent seasons.
“And while the managers and such have always done an excellent job at times the tactical sides of things have been left to a couple of the players, so I think having a coach will take some pressure off in that regard.
“The Inter-Council games were always a real highlight during the season for me as a player and as I said, this is essentially the Mitchell side now, so I definitely want to help it be successful.”
Being successful in this year’s new, two-day, three-game carnival is easier said than done, considering the Wranglers will face Orana – the reigning champions – along with an outstanding ACT Aces side, and the unknown South Coast Crew.
Orana will be without Western Zone skipper Jordan Moran though, but the Aces showed their class with a thumping nine-wicket win over the Crew late last month.
“The ACT, Orana and South Coast players might be playing a higher standard of cricket more often, but the guys we’re picking certainly play a lot of this form of cricket which is a good thing for us,” Venner said.
“I’m hoping we’ll really be able to rise to the challenge, and lift up to this level of cricket.”
The Wranglers and Outlaws open the Thunder Conference Orange pool carnival at Wade Park on Saturday, November 18, from 7pm.
Central West faces South Coast (9.30am) and ACT (2pm) on Sunday, November 19.