THEY have been in good touch so far this summer, but the skills of Bathurst trio Cooper Brien, Declan Fawkner and Tom Lynch will face their biggest challenge yet come January’s Kookaburra Cup.
The three have been named in the 13-man Western Zone squad which will be guided by coach Grath Dean at the NSW Country Cricket under 14s tournament at Armidale from January 8-11.
There they will meet some of the best juniors from across the state, but the Bathurst cricketers certainly deserve their spot in the side.
Lynch has take nine wickets at an average of 12.1 for the Bathurst District Cricket Association under 14s this season, while Brien’s efforts this season include an unbeaten 101 for the Saint Stanislaus’ College 14s.
Fawkner hit 105 in a local Bathurst under 14s club match, while he boast two half centuries in president’s cup. As Dean explains, Fawkner also gives him an option with the gloves.
“He's been playing well and he's also been named as our back-up wicketkeeper and he keeps up to the fast bowlers so that's another option for us because batsmen don't like that,” the coach said.
“I like the team. There’s a lot of variety with the bowling and the batting looks strong.
“Mac Webster from Lachlan is a good bowling all-rounder while George Cumming is a left-arm orthodox bowler and it’s rare to see one of those good enough to come through and make the side.
“He’s a smart cricketer as well so I think he’ll go well and there’s actually a lot of smart players in the side.
“I don’t think anyone will be scoring a lot of runs against us but if there was one weakness you had to pick, I normally like to go in with two dominant batsmen but at the moment there’s really only Tom (Coady).”
Also, according to Dean, this is the first time in roughly a decade a Western Zone Kookaburra Cup side has not featured anyone in the under 13s bracket.
“They’re all top-age players. That’s not to say the under 13s aren’t good enough, it's just a very strong 14s group,” he said.
While impressed with the side he’s got, Dean wasn’t getting too carried away when discussing Western’s chances at Armidale.
The Zone side has been around the mark in recent times, finishing as runner-up four times in the past seven seasons, but due to player development around the age of 14 and how much sides can change in one season, the coach stated it always difficult to predict who is the team to beat.
“When you do all the coaching through winter and then watch all the preliminary games, it all leads up to this and I’m really looking forward to it,” Dean added.
Teams for the State Challenge, which will be contested at Dubbo from January 22, will be selected at the Kookaburra Cup.