Cup ruling hurts Tamworth

TAMWORTH’S appeal to Country Cricket NSW to allow its young rising stars such as Angus McNeil and  Nick Pearson to play in Sunday’s SCG Country Cup clash with Hamilton-Wickham in Newcastle has been dismissed.

McNeil, who took 6-33 for Tamworth in its War Veterans Cup win over Narrabri on Sunday, and Pearson will sit on the sidelines again after being forced to miss the last-round SCG Country Cup win over Wallsend in Newcastle.

On that occasion the likes of Mitch Holt, veteran spinner Greg Kellett and 16-year-old Jame Psarakis were late additions to the Tamworth side for what became a marvellous 35-run win over Wallsend.

Now forced to travel to Newcastle again to tackle another Novocastrian side, they have been denied two of their young stars yet again.

Don Lewington is the Tamworth chairman of selectors and he thought Country Cricket NSW would agree with the Tamworth appeal.

Instead they rejected it.

“I can’t believe it,”  Lewington said yesterday.

“It’s ridiculous. I don’t know  any competition in the world where they stop players from playing in competition.

“I can’t see their logic.

“Where else can you be rewarded for good performances by being selected in the top grade.”

The problems started for Tamworth when they selected Pearson and McNeil to play for their Tamworth Colts side, Pearson as its young skipper, for what was a first-round game in the newly-introduced Country Shield (for teams between Country Cup and Country Plate) on November 4.

Gunnedah won that game and progressed while the Colts bowed out to continue in the MA Connolly Cup.

Then, Tamworth officials ran headlong into a  CCNSW rule that barred players who had played in the Country Shield from playing in the Country Cup.

It only affected teams such as Tamworth, which was one of the associations which had nominated teams for both the Country Shield and Country Cup.

In trying to give its young players greater representative honours, the local association was brought undone.

“In the off-season we lost our Country captain (Jeff Cook), Brendan Rixon and Nick Leyden,”  Lewington said.

“We’ve got a core group of eight players now and will chase around to see what we can come up with again. 

“We might have to see if former Country players such as Tim Kensell and Adam Greentree, who made themselves unavailable for rep selection this season, might help out.

“We’ve got some good young kids coming through too but they are a year or two off,” Lewington said.

Who knows, Tamworth might even make an SOS call to Australian 12th man Josh Hazlewood to see if he could play for his old association seeing as he hasn’t played for a few weeks now.

“Stockton roped in Englishman Graeme Onions for the Country Cup Final against us a few years back,”  Lewington said.

“It was an expensive loss for them.”

Tamworth has named a 13- man squad. The side will assemble at the Imperial Hotel Saturday evening and leave about 7.30pm for Newcastle. Any player with current rep shirts is also asked to go to Struddys and have an NICU logo ironed on before the weekend.

TAMWORTH SQUAD: Tom Groth (capt), Michael Rixon, Adam Jones, Kris Halloran, Josh Crowe, Adam Lole, James Psarakis, Leo Steyn, Aaron Hazlewood, Sam McHugh, Mitch Holt, Greg Kellett, Jarrard Abra.

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