A NEW generation of young cricketers will head to Mudgee tomorrow for the opening round of the Mitchell Cricket Council under 21s competition for 2012-13 with Bathurst fielding an unfamiliar looking side compared to recent years.
Gone are former captain Josh Toole as well as mainstays Brendan Inwood, Aaron Bell and Imran Qureshi.
Also missing from the side which placed second last season are with Alex Miller and English duo Johnny Anson and Ryan Healey.
Of the regulars from the past three seasons, only Joey Coughlan, Sam Macpherson and Blake Aubin will remain, while the likes of Wayne Sellers, Max Hope, Mike Waldren and Jarrod Urza all have a decent amount of experience at that level.
Coach Scott Inwood has selected a handful of debutantes for tomorrow’s clash including Jeremy Judge, Kyle Aubin, Deryn Clayton, Nick Loader, Jake Jaeller and Jake Mitchell.
Last season even with the volume of talent and experience in the side, Bathurst missed out on the title which was awarded to Orange after rain washed-out most of the final.
Inwood says that the coming edition of the Mitchell title will be a difficult assignment, but one he thinks his very young side can pull off.
“We have lost some outstanding players, take Josh Toole and those other guys out of any side and you are going to struggle to replace them,” the coach said.
“But we are lucky that the young guys who are coming into the side this year have played a lot of high-level cricket and know what representative games are all about.
“Mike Waldren and Max Hope are both still at school but have played a huge amount of top level cricket. Wayne Sellers has played first grade for three or four seasons and Joey and Sam have been part of this side for a long time now, so there is still a good level of experience there.”
Mudgee had a lean summer in under 21s in 2011-12, finishing fourth and bowing out in the first week of the finals, but Inwood is careful not to underestimate them.
“Mudgee have generally been strong over the years at this level, they weren’t at their best last summer and there is no doubt that Orange look like the logical team to beat this season,” he said.
“But it only takes 10 good balls or 10 silly shots for even a strong side to get knocked over cheaply, so we’re not going to be taking them lightly, especially playing in Mudgee.”
Coughlan will take over the captaincy of the side in his last season of 21s cricket and he is no stranger to the job, having led at various junior levels over the course of his career.
Batting looks to be the strength for Bathurst with the skipper Coughlan, Macpherson, Waldren, Sellers and Hope capable of big scores on their day while Hope and Sellers already boast some good scores at opens level this season.
Bowling could be a challenge, with the majority of the specialists in the team coming from the Bathurst District Cricket Association second grade competition, including Bathurst City pair Mitchell and Urza as well as ORC’s Kyle Aubin plus Saint Stanislaus’ College ISA bowler Jaeller.
All-rounders Coughlan, Judge and Hope will also be likely to get through plenty of work with the ball over the course of the representative season.
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