Armidale up to speed in Shield

ARMIDALE paceman Henry Cupitt forms one half of a handy opening attack that he hopes can lift Armidale to the Country Shield title in Cowra this weekend.

The 25-year-old TAS right-armer will take the new ball with Karl Triebe to continue a partnership that has given Armidale plenty of great starts so far this summer.

“Opening with Karl has been pretty good,” Cupitt said.

“We’re different opening bowlers.

“He’s been bowling quick lately and he tends to bowl in-swingers.

“I bowl out-swing so there’s some variation there.

“Then we have some good slow bowlers.”

Armidale will have to settle on a starting 12 for the game, but youngster Sam Uphill should be selected as a change bowler.

He has been in good form.

The slow options will include left-arm orthodox spinner Stephen Butler and right-arm offies Andrew Brownlie and Adam O’Sullivan.

The squad also includes Luke Brown, who hasn’t played a lot of rep cricket this season but is a handy addition for the trip south.

“We have the luxury of being able to bring Luke Brown in, which is pretty fantastic,” Cupitt said.

“He’s been bowling tight and  he’s been getting some starts batting.

“I know he got 80 against us.

“To be able to bring a player like Luke Brown into the squad is pretty handy.”

Overall, the squad is as good as Armidale has been able to field for a number of years.

It’s little wonder the city has performed better than it has done for five or six seasons.

“We haven’t had much success as far as rep cricket goes,” Cupitt said.

“But we’re going pretty well so far.

“The big thing is they have the SCG Country Cup, which Tamworth is in, and there are three divisions now.

“That middle division has given us more of a chance because we have struggled against Tamworth and the bigger teams.”

The new Shield competition has seen Armidale beat Narrabri, Gunnedah and Singleton to reach the last four.

It now faces Nowra in the semi-finals on Saturday and those earlier wins have instilled some confidence in the team.

“It’s a new-look team with a good mix of youth and some older heads,” Cupitt said.

“There’s a good feel around the team and that’s the main thing.

“There’s a bit more structure and discipline this year and everyone is enjoying it.

“Everyone’s playing well in club cricket and carried that on in rep cricket.

“We haven’t lost a game yet.”

While Cupitt and Tribe and their bowling attack colleagues will be working hard, the batting lineup also needs to fire.

So far it has been consistently good without anyone getting a massive score.

“Everyone’s got their job to do,” Cupitt said.

“Our batting has been pretty good.

“We’re batting down to eight or nine.

“Guys who bat three or four (in club cricket) are batting down there and that gives us depth.

“We don’t know what it will be like at Cowra because we’ve never played there.

“We’ve had the luxury of playing a lot of games in Armidale, and one in Narrabri.

“We know it will be hot at Christmas time in Cowra and the pitch will probably be flat.

“But other than that we don’t know.”

Cupitt was an Armidale junior rep but spent a year playing overseas and has been away at university in Canberra.

But he is now back home with a sports management degree and is the cricket master at The Armidale School.

Not a bad job for a cricket enthusiast.

He coaches all of the school’s young players and hopes that Armidale’s success will rub off on not only the TAS boys, but on the city’s juniors in general.

“Hopefully we can win,” he said.

“Everyone’s really keen.

“It’s created a bit of interest around town, which is good.

“It’s good for the association too.

“Hopefully it will encourage the next generation to play rep cricket.”

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