Western Zone under-14 coach Garth Dean wants his players to believe in themselves when they play for the right to be crowned best side in the state this weekend.
Western took out the Kookaburra Cup for the first time in January, going through the campaign at Armidale undefeated, and that earned Dean’s troops the right to take on Sydney champions North Shore in the City-Country Challenge.
That 50-over match is played at Raby Oval in Campbelltown on Sunday and Dean has no doubt his side has what it takes to down its city counterparts.
“It’s definitely a reward for winning (the Kookaburra Cup) but it’s also another game to play and put ourselves right at the top of the pile in the under 14s in NSW so it’s a big opportunity,” Dean said.
“We’ll get there and have a look at the ground and a run around and then I’ll tell the boys to remember what got them her and then click back into that.”
The fact the match is a 50-over contest rather than a 40-over one like those played at the Kookaburra Cup doesn’t phase Dean.
In fact, he’s relishing it.
Western, led by leading Dubbo batsmen Tom Coady, lost just 14 wickets across the five matches at Armidale.
“Batting depth is not a problem,” Dean said.
“I don’t see us getting bowled out first. If we bat first I think we can bat the 50 and see what type of total we can put on.
“But if we have to bowl first, that was what won us four games at Armidale. That pressure we created in the field and with the ball.”
The squad which heads to Sydney on Saturday is expected to be the same which won the Kookaburra Cup, although there is an injury concern about Dubbo-based opening bowler Hugh Ridley.
Ridley has taken some time off after a back injury but scans have cleared the young seamer of any stress fractures or structural injuries.
Despite that, there is plenty of depth in the bowling attack and Dean confessed he remains unsure of who will even open the attack.
Bathurst junior Tom Lynch did a fine job at the recent State Challenge while Cowra’s Mac Webster took the new ball in two matches at Armidale.
“We’ve got a very good side and 50 overs will suit us more than 40 due to the depth we’ve got with bat and ball,” Dean said, before saying he knows little of North Shore.
“They’re apparently quite strong in the under 16s so we’ll see if that trickles down to the 14s but you really don’t know until you get there.
“But we’ve gone five game undefeated, have got a lot of depth and they’re all good kids.”
Coady and Ridley are joined in the squad by Dubbo teammates Koda Sissian and Paddy Nelson.
Parkes young gun Harrison Bayliss will again captain the side.
- WESTERN ZONE: Harrison Bayliss ©, Koda Sissian, Paddy Nelson, Tom Coady, Hugh Ridley, Tom Lynch, Declan Fawkner, Mikey McNamara, Sam Austin, George Cumming, Jacob Ryan, Cooper Brien, Mac Webster