WESTERN Zone chairman of selectors Tim Cox has already labelled the region’s 2012-13 outfit one of the strongest he has seen in his time involved with cricket in Macquarie, Lachlan and Mitchell cricket councils.
It’s a rich assessment coming from the skipper of last year’s Western Zone side, a unit that finished runner-up to a talent-stacked Illawarra in the final of the NSW Country Championships last summer.
Cox has this year made way for Pat Rosser - one of NSW Country Cricket’s best players - as the side’s captain for its championship campaign in Wagga Wagga over three days starting on November 9.
But just what makes this side special?
Cox’s answer is simple.
“I think all-round depth,” Cox fired.
“Everyone in that side is certainly capable with the bat.”
The former quick then delves deeper into the need for a versatile team.
“There’s no out-and-out stand-out quick but there isn’t one in the zone anyway,” he added.
“There’s a couple of young fellas who are up and coming but I think we’re a good fielding side and we’re reasonably athletic, which always helps over a three-day carnival.”
The not-as-quick-as-some pacemen are young, however, with Declan Hoare, 18, Liam Gough, 17, and Joe Kershaw, 17, an attack as raw as they come.
All three can bat too.
But with the likes of Trent Colley, Jordan Moran, Jameel Qureshi, Greg Buckley, Anthony Heraghty, Stephen Knight, James O’Brien and then Rosser, the three young quicks will have to be content at the tail end of the order.
It’s a batting line-up that’s strength can best be described by the talent missing.
Bathurst’s Josh Toole hit a wonderful 65 not out - arguably one of the innings of the zone trials - guiding Mitchell to a seven-wicket victory over Macquarie last weekend, yet failed to make the cut for Western Zone.
Toole was an incumbent Western player too.
It only further fuels Cox’s argument this Western team is irresistibly strong.
“We’re reasonably confident,” he said ahead of Western’s southern pool contests with Riverina, Southern and Illawarra.
“Balance is the key to that side and the early order.
“Batting depth of Colley, Qureshi, Buckley, Moran, they’re the sort of class players in the top four who will do a job for you then you look at the hitting capabilities of Rosser and Heraghty, O’Brien and Kershaw late in the overs will be key.”
Cox went further as to say the standard of cricket over the two days at last weekend’s Western Zone trials at Wade Park made selecting a 13-man squad to take away nigh on impossible.
It also makes the challenge for opposing sides versus Western Zone all the more great.
“It was tough, but that’s great for the zone to have that depth of talent coming through,” he said.