Meet what Mitchell Swain says is the new and improved Gunnedah cricket side.
The Gunnedah captain said the days of not enough respect being given to representing the town were gone.
The current Gunnedah cricket side, he insisted, was fortified by a genuine passion and an influx of talent that would be on display in the War Veterans Cup season opener against Armidale at Wolseley Park on Sunday.
“A few of us got together and had a bit of a talk, and the general feeling is everyone’s pretty keen,” he said.
“And I think probably over the past couple of years we probably haven’t done as well as we would have liked, and we probably didn’t get the [player] numbers we would have liked. Hopefully everyone stays keen.
“It certainly looks promising at the moment. There’s a fair few blokes keen for Sunday. Probably too many. We haven’t had that luxury for a while – and there’s some pretty good players too.”
Swain, an Old Boy squad member in the Tamworth competition, said the revival was born from a desire for Gunnedah cricket “to go ahead”.
“It’s no secret the competition probably hasn’t been as strong as it has been,” he said.
“This year I think the competition has really gone ahead and a few young players are coming along and started to mature a bit.”
Swain said Gunnedah had lost its “really good winning culture” the past two years but it only took one good season to change that. “And that’s certainly what we’re looking to do this year,” he added.
Swain said the side to face Armidale was “strong”, despite “two or three” players missing due to other commitments.
He said with quicks Brad Jenkinson, Farran Lamb and Troy Sands spearheading the attack, Gunnedah would be hard to beat.
The skipper praised the attitude of Sands, his Old Boys teammate. He said if “every young bloke” had Sands’ cricketing mentality, “it would go a long way to solving Gunnedah’s issues”.
Swain said Gunnedah aimed to play “simple cricket” against Armidale. “I think our batting can be a real strength,” he added.
Swain said Armidale had a predictability that meant they would have “some very good young bowlers and some really good top-order batsmen”.
The key for Gunnedah, he said, was starting well so they “got into the rhythm of the game”. “I think out batting can be a real strength of our game,” he said.
He singled out Andy Mack for special mention. “He’s in the top half a dozen [best] batters in the region when he puts his mind to it.”