Strength to spare in squad

TAMWORTH has called in Will Howard, Leo Steyn and Matt Zell as reinforcements for next Sunday’s SCG Country Cup final.

The two-time champions will be without four of the side that secured Tamworth its spot in the final with skipper Tom Groth playing in the Australian Country Championships, Angus McNeill and Jack McVey in New Zealand with the Northern NSW Emus and James Psarakis in Adelaide for the U17s nationals.

Selectors have named a 14-strong squad for the match-up against Hamilton-Wickham with Kris Halloran and Aaron Hazlewood coming back in.

Both were unavailable for the quarter and semi-finals.

Opening bat Michael Rixon will assume the captaincy in Groth’s absence, and heads a strong batting line-up, one strengthened by the inclusion of Hazlewood and Halloran.

They’ll both add some starch to the middle order.

The bowling is where Tamworth has been hit the hardest losing pace weapons McNeill and McVey and Psarakis as a spinning option.

Nevertheless, it still has Stuart Plant and Rixon to bowl spin.

Howard, Steyn and Zell are all bowling cover, while Hazlewood will also fill a bowling role.

“(Howard) Will take the new ball with Col (Smyth),” selector Adam Jones said, ironically from the SCG where he was watching the first day of the final Ashes test.

“He’s been bowling very well this season and deserves his spot.”

He’s been regularly among the wickets for Old Boys and would have been, as it was, on the cusp of Firsts selection.

Steyn will likely bowl change with Hazlewood.

“With losing a couple of quick bowlers we needed someone to bowl like Leo does.

“Bowl stump to stump,” Jones said.

“Hopefully he can choke them out.”

Tamworth has unfortunately missed out on the home changing room with Hamilton-Wickham winning the toss conducted at the Cricket NSW offices on Thursday.

The TDCA is organising a supporters bus to travel down to Sydney and cheer on the boys.

There were only 18 seats left as of late yesterday afternoon.

The cost is $50 per person inclusive of your seat on the bus and a supporters t-shirt. 

The bus will leave the Tourist Information Centre at 3am and return after the completion of the match. 

TAMWORTH SCG COUNTRY CUP TEAM: Michael Rixon (capt), Simon Norvill, Calum Rowe, Adam Jones, Kris Halloran, Nick Pearson, Matt Everett, Aaron Hazlewood, Leo Steyn, Stuart Plant, Col Smyth, Will Howard, Mitch Holt, Matt Zell. Bus will leave at 6.30am next Saturday morning from Imperial Hotel.

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