Cavaliers young gun Hugh Middleton, Kinross prodigy Phoebe Litchfield and Orange City duo Blake Weymouth and Nick Warburton are hoping fourth time’s the charm for Western Zone at this week’s Kookaburra Cup tournament at Griffith.
For the last three years Western Zone has made the final of the under-14 NSW Country Championship and for the last three years Western Zone has fallen at that hurdle too.
Although this year is all four of the Orange quartet’s debut in the royal blue cap and they didn’t feel the pain of losing those finals, helping Western finally claim NSW Country honours is what’s driving them anyway.
“Winning is definitely the goal,” Warburton said.
“We’ve got a pretty good side too,” Weymouth added.
“Garth (Dean, Western’s coach) said we’ve got the best fielding side he’s seen in a long time, so that will help.”
Western faces the unenviable task of clashing with heavyweights Newcastle in the competition’s opening round on Monday, at Exies No.1 Oval.
Although, Weymouth, Middleton and Warburton admitted they know nothing about the Novocastrians, or any other sides bar one for that matter.
“[Blake and I] probably know a little bit about some of the Riverina side,” Middleton said.
“Yeah, I think so, we played with some of them last year in the (Western-Riverina) Kangaroos side at the (Cricket NSW Under-13) State Challenge,” Weymouth added.
“I don’t know anything at all about any teams, it’s good in a way I guess but it’d be nice to know a bit so we’d know a bit more about how to play against them,” Warburton said.
Warburton, a tall, whippy quick bowler, will form a vital part of Western’s pace-bowling attack while Middleton is the side’s primary spinner.
“I’m not sure where or when I’ll bowl, but I’d like to take wickets and help the side win,” Warburton said.
“Me too, get some wickets, and hopefully get a few (lower order) runs too,” Middleton added.
Dean, from Bathurst, said the side’s bowling attack is its strength. In that respect, plenty of Western’s hopes will rest with gun bats Weymouth and Litchfield.
“Runs, I want to score runs. If I do that I’m helping the team win,” Weymouth enthused.
The Orange group is four of six Mitchell Cricket Council stars named in the Western side, with six from Lachlan Valley and one from Macquarie Valley rounding out the 13-strong Zone squad.
While the quartet are undeniably carving their own pathways in cricket, Weymouth, Litchfield and Middleton all come from famous Orange cricketing stock and the comparisons between them and their fathers are inevitable.
However, for Middleton, Western Zone selection marks an achievement he’s made by age 14 which his father – Cavaliers legend Stu – never did.
Middleton merely smiled when the fact was brought up, while Weymouth wasn’t even sure if he was following in his father Frank’s – an ex-NSW Country representative – footsteps.
“I think Dad might have played for Western Zone at some stage but I’m not really sure,” Weymouth said.
After Newcastle, Western faces Southern/ACT, North Coastal, Illawarra and Central North on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
All the games kick off at 10am, with far more importance being placed on early victories – this year’s Kookaburra Cup is first past the post, rather than round games then a final.
WESTERN ZONE: Blake Weymouth, Phoebe Litchfield, Hugh Middleton, Nick Warburton, Lachlan Endacott, Will Hutchison (Mitchell), Ryan Dunn, Ben Schofield, Mikey McNamara, Luke McDean, Harry Bayliss, Darcy Leadbitter (Lachlan Valley), Tom Coady (Macquarie Valley).