AUSTRALIAN fast bowler Pat Cummins and NSW speedster Ben Dwarshuis touched down in Armidale yesterday to embark on a whirlwind tour to support grassroots cricket.
The tour is part of the NSW Toyota Country Blitz program and will see the two speedsters running clinics in Armidale, Inverell, Tamworth as well as smaller towns in between.
It culminates in a luncheon on Friday in Tamworth along with special guest Cricket NSW CEO Andrew Jones.
“It is great to be a part of a program like this,” Cummins said.
“There are several country players in the NSW squad. Josh Hazlewood is a great example, and I think they are a testament to these programs.”
The speedster hopes to see some talented kids on the trip, and believes the sport is strong at the moment.
“I am expecting to see some athletic kids, we normally get a lot of the really athletic ones from the country.”
The NSW pair will be running clinics with primary and high school kids, hoping to involve more in the sport as well as mentor the kids that are looking to go further in the sport.
“It’s pretty good in NSW, I don’t think many slip through the net,” Cummins said.
“The pathways these days are a lot better than they have been in the past – talent gets picked up.”
The two cricketers split up yesterday, Dwarshuis travelled to Inverell to work with some schools there, whilst Cummins stayed in Armidale for a clinic at TAS, both are attending a primary school Twenty20 tournament in Armidale today . The cricketers are big fans of the short form of the game and the way it contributes to the games talent pool and popularity, especially in regional areas, although still believe tests are the pinnacle of the sport.
“Myself and a lot of other guys coming through got our first taste through T20,” Cummins said.
“It is a form you can experiment more with and use as a pathway to bigger selections.”
The two paceman agreed that the most important message to give to kids is to play cricket because you enjoy it.
“I play because I love the game,” Dwarshuis said.
“You always play better if your having some fun and playing with some mates.”
Cummins has never been to the region before, although he is looking forward to a visit to the Bendemeer Pub, which teammate and former resident Josh Hazlewood has told the pair so much about.
The one test star is hoping to return to the big arena, but will first have to overcome a recurring back injury which recently cut his Australia A tour of South Africa short.