IT MIGHT be winter but summer stretched to Tamworth on the weekend when some of the region’s best and brightest junior cricketers took part in a Central North Zone Academy coaching clinic.
Run by CNZ academy coach Rod Bryant, the camp was the first of three for the talented young players spread from Maitland to Moree.
“We have two more later on,” CNZ chairman Terry Psarakis said.
“We’re also trying to play a few more games this season. Hunter Valley and Northern Inland have academy squads as well and will also have coaching clinics.
“We were lucky too on the weekend as Rod had Michael Maclennan, the NSW Youth Cricket Manager, in Tamworth.
“He’s coaching the NSW Under 17 and 19 teams. He also had Grant Lambert, a prolific runscorer in Sydney grade cricket.
“But we also had a heap of local coaches.
“Terry Browne, Jeff Cook, Barry Smith (HV), Tony Meppem (Narrabri), Chris Paterson, Dave O’Donnell (Scone), and Graeme Kent (Inverell) also helped out.
“We had a real good roll-up. 22 on Friday.
“A few were missing Saturday though but it was pretty intensive and covered a lot of subjects, starting with preparing for an innings.
“Batting, bowling, fielding, all that and they tried to be bit more specific on some things.”
While some of the young cricketers attended Friday, a couple were missing Saturday so they could play baseball in the local Tamworth competition.
James Psarakis and Jack Richards were two of those talented young men, who are crossing over into a sport which also fielded the likes of Australian captains Ian Chappell and Allan Border.
Both Chappell and Border played a lot of baseball as young men and they acknowledge how much it helped their fielding and throwing.
So much so, the Australian cricket side has used former US baseballer Mike Young as a specialist fielding and throwing coach at different times over the past two decades.
In Tamworth, former Australian Country pitcher Robert Chandler has helped out Central North Zone with special clinics in the past.
And Chandler has been promoting baseball within the cricketing ranks for the last 10 years.
That has reaped rewards for both cricket and baseball alike.
“Playing baseball is great for the boys,” Terry Psarakis said.
“It really does improve their fielding and throwing a great deal.
“We can thank Chang (Chandler) for that.”
Tamworth senior representative cricketers James Psarakis and Simon Norvill both reap the benefits of playing baseball while young up and comers such as Keyton Hislop and Richards are also utilising the game to hone their bowling, fielding, throwing and batting skills.