ORANGE can lay claim to having two players in the NSW Country side to contest the Australian Country Cricket Championships in January.
Orange captain Trent Colley was selected after Western Zone took out the NSW Country Championship final on Sunday.
Former Orange City player Josh Bennett also earned a spot in the NSW Country side.
Bennett was part of the Newcastle side which missed out on a place in the championship final based on a quotient.
The 22-year-old is enjoying his fourth season in Newcastle first grade competition with the University of Newcastle side.
Bennett said he selection in the NSW Country team caught him off guard.
“I’m very surprised an excited about it,” Bennett said.
“I’m just glad the selectors were there watching because I didn’t take many wickets. I only got the one wicket over the three days. I bowled some of the best I’ve done. I had a lot of plays and misses.”
Playing for Newcastle in the Northern pool carnival, Bennett took 1-12 off six overs against North Coastal and 0-17 off 10 overs against Central Northern.
Bennett admits he’s come a long way since playing for Orange City where he enjoyed his last season in 2008-09.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer because I didn’t do that well in Orange,” Bennett laughed.
“My pace and accuracy has improved and being able to swing and move the ball off the pitch.”
Bennett might be a new face in the NSW Country side but this isn’t his first time at the Australian Country Championships.
He was part of the ACT team which contested this year’s event in Melbourne.
The paceman said he enjoyed the championships although it didn’t all go to plan.
“I was leading wicket-taker for ACT but in the second last game I broke my arm,” he explained.
“That put me out for the second half of last season. The batters were about to go out and bat but we were waiting for rain to stop. We were in Geelong and they had chin-up bars in the change rooms for the AFL players. I was swinging on a bar and I got a gentle push from behind, I went parallel to the ground and then fell about two-and-a-half metres and landed on my arm.”
He had to undergo surgery on his broken left arm but it is fully healed now and he’s playing some great cricket.
Bennett admitted being selected for the NSW Country side was special and he was looking forward to taking on ACT in their first match.
He’s also feeling a little more pressure.
“I’m probably a little bit nervous. NSW always does well so we’re expected to go well,” he said.
Bennett, who is studying a bachelor of science and a bachelor of teaching, said he keeps in contact with his Orange City mates and trains with them when he’s back home.
The 2013 Australian Country Championships will be held in Bundaberg from January 3-15.