AFTER a winter toiling away in the nets the region’s best junior cricketers are ready to get out there and play.
They’ll get their chance – weather permitting – in this weekend’s Central Northern Invitational Challenge in Tamworth.
The carnival will involve U13, U14 and U16 teams from the North West, Northern Tablelands, Hunter and North Coast.
The three North West sides had a final training run last Sunday although most of them have been training through the winter through the Cricket NSW academy program.
This weekend will be a chance to put what they’ve learnt from that into practice.
Tony Meppem coaches the 14s and rates them a good chance.
“I’m pretty confident the North West boys will go pretty well,” he said.
“It’s a pretty solid side from that age group.”
“There’s no standout batsmen but there’s enough ability to get some good scores.”
If they can do that they’ve got a side more than capable of doing the job with the ball.
“It’s a pretty strong bowling side,” Meppem said.
Starting off, they’ve “got a pretty good opening bowling combination” in Tamworth’s Lachlan Davidson and Narrabri’s Nathan Trindall.
“They’re both big for 14-year-olds and both reasonably sharp,” Meppem said.
“Jake and Ben Douglas (Quirindi) also both bowl pretty well.”
Then they’ve got the swing of Cooper Barnes.
“He’s very accurate and swings the ball,” Meppem said.
“He’ll probably do our into-the-wind stints.”
Ryan Meppem (Narrabri) with his left arm off-spinners and Trent Lumby (Gunnedah) with his leg spin will provide the slow options.
Hayden Loughrey (Gunnedah) and Matt Bryant (Tamworth) will be among the leading lights with the bat.
Meppem said it would have been nice to have one more specialist batsmen at the top but there are plenty of handy bats.
“There’s a lot of allrounders,” he said.
Sunday was their first run together and Meppem liked what he saw from them, particularly in the field.
“Their fielding was really good,” he said.
“The boys looked energetic for the 30 overs or so they were in the field.”
They’ll face Northern Tablelands first up, then Hunter on day two and North Coast on the final day.
Meppem doesn’t know too much about their opposition but has seen a couple of the Northern Tablelands players and identified Inverell left-armer Tom Scoble as one of the danger players for them.
“He’s been coming to the cricket academy,” he said.
“He’s a good allrounder.”
Joseph Smith (Inverell) has also been involved with the academy.
For the 14s and 16s the weekend will also double as a selection trial for the invitational Central North teams to play St George at Branxton next Thursday.
The weekend also leads into the Northern Inland selection trials in Gunnedah.