Unknown quantities as ‘keen as mustard’

CENTRAL North captain Tom Groth believes his ‘green’ side can be in the mix in this 

weekend’s Northern Country Championships in Newcastle.

The zone side has undergone a bit of a changing of the guard with many of the regulars from the past few years moving on or unavailable, and only a few of the side having played at senior level for the zone before, although most have played with U19s and Colts sides.

But as they, say change can be beneficial. 

“I suppose we are relatively inexperienced. In saying that that’s not the worst thing,” Groth said.

“The other sides don’t know a lot about us.”

“(And) I’m sure the guys we’ve picked are as keen as mustard.”

The likes of Nick Pearson, Angus McNeill, Tom Irwin and Ben Neaves are stepping up from last season’s Emus side.

McNeill will also be backing up from this week’s State Challenge.

It should make today’s opening clash against North Coast interesting after teaming up with two of the side – Nick De Giusti and Sam Reading in the Northern Stars team for the last three days.

They’ll be pretty tough to start with.

“We played them (North Coast) last year,” Groth said.

“We got the win there so they’ll be pretty keen to put in a big one.”

The attack will be led by McNeill, Neaves and Muswellbrook’s Jon Shaw.

“We’ve got three new ball bowlers,” Groth said.

They’ve then got Sam McHugh to swing the ball and Maitland’s Rob Whelden as the frontline spinning option.

He was the surprise packet of the Central North trial tearing through the Northern Inland line-up.

“He’s left arm orthodox,” Groth said.

“I don’t know a great deal about him. But if he bowls like he did at Gunnedah he’ll be handy.”

Groth was one of his six victims. “We’ll get part-time overs out of Mick (Rixon) and Lachie (Cameron),” he said.

They probably don’t have as genuine a pace attack as in recent years but it’s handy all the same, and if the bowlers can do the job they have got a strong batting line-up to back them.

“There’s no reason we can’t get runs,” Groth said.

“The guys that have been picked are all going well at club level.”

Cameron is fresh from a century on Sunday, while Rixon struck a ton the week before.

Both will have big roles to play with the bat, Rixon especially at the top of the order.

They’ll be looking to him to lay the foundation for some big scores.

That will be where the games are won and lost.

“The wickets are always flat in Newcastle,” Groth said.

“We’ve got to bat well to win games.”

They are the top seeds entering the carnival having been ranked third overall – between the northern and southern sections.

Hosts Newcastle are four.

CENTRAL NORTH TEAM: Tom Groth, capt (Tamworth), Tom Irwin (Maitland), Simon Norvill (Tamworth), Michael Rixon (Tamworth), Nick Pearson (Tamworth), Rob Whelden (Maitland), Lachlan Cameron (Narrabri), Greg Sheehan (Cessnock), Jon Shaw (Muswellbrook), Angus McNeill (Tamworth), Ben Neaves (Maitland), Sam McHugh (Tamworth).

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