WESTERN manager Tony Wells stopped short of declaring his Bradman Cup side as a winning chance when the annual under 16s competition kicks off today but he is quietly confident that they can give a big account of themselves when they take on the state’s best in Bowral for the next week.
Twelve months ago Western took a relatively star-studded team to the tournament but were bundled out after three consecutive defeats but Wells is hopeful that despite a tough draw, a similar fate is not awaiting his team.
“One thing this side has got is a lot of players with senior cricket experience and thinking back to the last Western team that won this competition - it was a while ago now - they had the same sort of quality,” Wells said.
“Alex Crowther has played opens cricket for the Blue Mountains, Henry Hunt has played for Lachlan at senior level, Charlie Litchfield for Orange, James Ford with Mudgee and Jeremy Judge has played first grade in Bathurst.
“It makes a big difference.”
The likes of Judge, Alex Johnston, Hunt and Litchfield, all decent bowlers in their own right, may conceivably go through the entire carnival without bowling, though it is unlikely.
“James Ford, Callen Taylor, Nathan Anderson, Kyle Aubin, Daniel Donato and Angus Cusack are all very capable medium-pacers, it is a good attack,” Wells said.
“We have two good spinners in Crowther, who bowls leg-spin, and William Wolter, who bowls left-arm ‘Chinamen’, so that adds another aspect too.
“Last year we needed Jeremy Judge to bowl 10 overs a game, this year we have the luxury of being able to let players like him just focus on their batting.
“Western face a tough draw in their half of the competition and will face Newcastle in the opening round on Monday before facing defending champions Illawarra on day two.
They are likely to be a formidable outfit again having also won the final of the under 14s Kookaburra Cup last year, meaning that any gaps from players leaving the 16s side are likely to be filled by someone of equal quality graduating from the younger division.
Their preliminary matches are rounded out by a clash with North Coast on Wednesday, who themselves made the Kookaburra Cup final in 2012.
“We’ve had a couple of good training sessions, there was a non-compulsory session last week that all but two players attended and we will have another one the day before the tournament starts so I think they will be ready to go,” Wells said.
“Chris Barrato from Cowra is coaching them and he is a very organised coach and gets everything spot on.”