ARMIDALE has picked a lively team for its first foray into the new Country Shield competition and, with it, comes a rejuvenated hope of success.
The new competition sees Armidale host Narrabri on Sunday while Gunnedah is at home to Tamworth Gold and, with the Tamworth First XI out of the frame, there is a chance for one of those sides to make it to the finals at Cowra.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Armidale captain Andrew Brownlie said.
“It’s good for some of the teams around our region who have struggled against Tamworth in recent years.
“It gives us a bit more of a chance to progress a bit further.”
Brownlie’s side features some old heads but is topped up with young talent.
It is not full strength but he is confident it will do the job.
“We’ve got a handy little side,” Brownlie said.
“There’s a few out.
“Matt Schaefer is unavailable, Steve Butler is unavailable and Bentley Cropper can’t play rep cricket this year, so we’re short a specialist spinner.
“But otherwise it’s pretty good.”
In the batting ranks, Brownlie, Shaun Brennan and Adam O’Sullivan offer the experience while a few youngsters have the opportunity to step up to the first XI.
“Michael Dawson is an extremely talented bat,” Brownlie said.
“He’s in form and he likes to bat long overs.
“If he can underpin the batting and a few blokes bat around him that would be good.
“Having Sully back is good because he’s a good bat and I’m looking forward to it after missing last year with injury.
“Brad Smith, the keeper, is a handy bat and Scott Brennan looks like he’s going to be a good cricketer.
“Shaun Brennan is back after a few years out and he adds some experience.”
The bowling attack is less experienced but, with a few new faces, it could surprise.
“Tim Triebe has played grade in Sydney and is supposed to be pretty lively,” Brownlie said.
“Kyle Sykes has played in Tamworth. He has a very funny action but bowls good areas.
“Sam Uphill is easy to set fields to, Henry Cupitt swings it a mile and then Sully, Michael Dawson and myself will finish off the 50 overs.”
Narrabri was reluctant to make the trip to Armidale when this game was originally set down for last Sunday.
That might be a good sign for Armidale.
“They’re usually pretty good,” Brownlie said.
“There will be some pressure on our bowlers but playing at home is an advantage.
“If they have guys like Trigger (Craig Trindall) and some of their bigger hitters they will be dangerous. But I’m confident we can do it.”
The good news is that Trindall is having the year off and won’t torment the Armidale batsmen this time.
Lachie Cameron will lead the Narrabri side.
That team should be finalised today.
ARMIDALE: Andrew Brownlie (captain), Dean Moore, Adam O’Sullivan, Michael Dawson, Scott Brennan, Shaun Brennan, Hugh Reeves, Henry Cuppitt, Kyle Sykes, Sam Uphill, Tim Triebe, Brad Smith.