WESTERN Zone has called on generation next for its 2012-13 NSW Country Championship Southern Zone campaign in Wagga Wagga in a fortnight’s time, naming eight changes from the side that last year finished runners-up.
Dubbo’s English import Greg Buckley was rewarded for a strong all-round carnival with his first Western Zone cap, as was Bathurst’s Jameel Qureshi.
Parkes duo Phil Dunford and Anthony Heraghty are back in the Western ranks after a number of years out of the side, while Mudgee’s star pair of Stephen Knight and James O’Brien are also back in the zone.
Jordan Moran’s recent form was too irresistible, with the dangerous top order bat forcing his way back into the side after missing Western Zone’s 2011-12 campaign through injury.
But the most notable additions are those who will take the ball.
Along with Nyngan’s Declan Hoare, who was a star in last season’s runners-up Western Zone outfit, young quicks Liam Gough (Orange) and Joe Kershaw (Cowra), both 17, made the cut to earn their first zone cap.
With Hoare the eldest of the new ball bowlers in the side at just 18, Western Zone will be forced to attack with a host of baby-faced assassins.
Western Zone chairman of selectors Tim Cox said form, more than anything, warranted the changing of the guard.
“Young Gough, I watched a premier league game (at Wade Park) two weeks ago and he bowled very well that day against Dubbo. (On Saturday) he was superb taking five wickets and (on Sunday) again got three early ones,” Cox said.
Gough took 5-45 on day one of the Western Zone trials for Mitchell, then bagged 3-25 yesterday against Macquarie Valley.
“You can’t fault his form. He is a left arm option which is always handy to take away,” Cox said.
Kershaw scored 58 and took three wickets for Lachlan against Mitchell on Saturday.
He then backed it up with 73 against Orange’s colts and 6-22 with the ball.
Cox added the number of returning faces was a show of strength for the zone, with the likes Ben Strachan and Josh Toole - two of last year’s zone stars - left out after strong showings in the trials.
“I guess looking at that it’s a number of guys being persistent over a number of years all of a sudden pick up some form to be selected in the side. There’s probably five or six of those guys in that category,” Cox said of the changes.
“We went down to the wire with a few things and I suppose consistency was what we had to look for in the end.
“Tooley and Ben are probably two who stick out there as being excluded for that reason and that reason alone, as well as a few young guys putting their hand up.
Western Zone will play in the Southern pool in 2012-13 competition against Riverina, Southern and then Illawarra in a re-match of last year’s NSW Country Championships grand final.
WESTERN ZONE: Pat Rosser (Parkes, c), Greg Buckley (Dubbo), Trent Colley (Orange), Phil Dunford (Parkes), Liam Gough (Orange), Anthony Heraghty (Parkes), Declan Hoare (Nyngan), Joe Kershaw (Cowra), Stephen Knight (Mudgee), Jordan Moran (Dubbo), James O’Brien (Mudgee), Jameel Qureshi (Bathurst), Jason Ryan (Dubbo).