GLENN Rowlands and Ron Hancock chase the first three-peat when NSW Country lines up against Victorian Country in their first game of the 2013/2014 Commbank Australian Country Cricket Championships in Canberra today.
Rowlands is the NSW coach and Hancock his manager.
They have led the NSW Country title campaigns the past two seasons and won both, the first at Geelong and then up in Bundaberg last year.
NSW has won back-to-back titles four times (85-86, 89-90, 92-93 and the last two seasons) while Queensland has done it twice (99-2000, 2005-06).
“No one has won it three times in a row,” Rowlands told The Leader on the weekend as he headed to a pre-championship camp with the rest of the NSW squad.
“That would be nice. But we do have a new-look side. We have eight new faces although a couple have been away before.”
He was referring to Mark Littlewood and Tim Cox.
Putting together new sides is nothing new for Rowlands and Hancock.
“We had six new faces in Geelong and seven in Bundaberg last year. Now we’ve got eight,” Rowlands said.
“We’ve still got the nucleus of last year’s team, captain Graeme Batty. Tommy (Groth) and Pat Rosser.”
He reckons the team camps he and Hancock introduced two years ago have been ideal preparations.
It enables the players to blow out a few cricketing cobwebs from the festive season as well as get to know each other, on and off the field, a little better.
That harmony has been a major plus for the team.
“I think it makes a great difference,” Ron Hancock told The Leader on Saturday.
“It gets everyone on the same page especially when they are from all over NSW.
“Pat Rosser’s from Parkes, Kershaw's from Cowra, Cox from Dubbo, Tommy’s from Tamworth and there are a few Newcastle boys as well.
“We’ve got some good young players too, Scott Burkinshaw and Joe Kershaw. They are 18 and 19.”
Burkinshaw is the son of former Narrabri and Central North opening bat Garry Burkinshaw but whereas his father opened the batting he will be one of the new ball spearheads.
The bowling attack has “a fair bit of variety this year”, Hancock reckoned.
“We have a new and young pace attack although Tim Cox adds plenty of experience. We have a leggie in Jonathon Cook and Foster and Rosser to bowl spin as well, while Dale Scifleet and Mark Littlewood will also bowl medium pace. So it’s a fair bit of difference this year.”
NSW COUNTRY: Graeme Batty (Captain - Illawarra), Scott Burkinshaw (Central Coast), Jonathan Cook (Illawarra), Tim Cox (Western), Nick Foster (Newcastle), Jeff Goninan (Newcastle), Tom Groth (Central Northern), Greg Hunt (Newcastle), Joe Kershaw (Western), Mark Littlewood (Newcastle), Blair Lindsay (Central Coast), Pat Rosser (Western) and Dale Scifleet (Illawarra). The team officials are Glenn Rowlands (Coach - Central Coast), Ron Hancock (Manager - Newcastle) and Matt Whalan (Physio - Illawarra).