Cricket: Zone's best cricketers steeled for Country Championship campaign

Leading from the front: Tom Groth will lead Central North into another Country Championship campaign this weekend. Photo: Peter Hardin
Leading from the front: Tom Groth will lead Central North into another Country Championship campaign this weekend. Photo: Peter Hardin

The injection of some fresh young blood and the momentum he felt they had started to build last year has Central North coach Craig Trindall enthused about this weekend’s Country Championships in Inverell.

The three day carnival gets underway on Friday and will pit Central North against Western, North Coastal and Newcastle.

The home side take in a bit of a different looking squad but one not lacking enthusiasm and passion.

“We’ve got some guys that have been waiting in the shadows for a long time to get an opportunity,” Trindall said, adding that it is a reward for performance.

NSW Country stalwart Tom Groth will lead the side in what will be his 10th consecutive campaign with Central North.

At the other end of the scale the likes of home-town boy Jai Tasker, Paddy Montgomery and Coby Cornish will be making their senior debuts for the zone.

All three are under 23, signalling what is a bit of a changing of the guard.

That’s not to discredit their chances, and Trindall said the squad are confident they are not just turning up to be part of the four.

“The momentum that we started to build last year in the game that got washed out against Newcastle, we want to try and continue that,” he said.

They have drawn Newcastle first up, which will be “a real war of attrition”.

“We’ve just got to stay in the contest,” Trindall said.

Coby Cornish will be hoping to pick up where he left off for Bective East on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Coby Cornish will be hoping to pick up where he left off for Bective East on Saturday. Photo: Peter Hardin

The perennial heavyweights have named a strong squad, with three of the side Bush Blues’ last season, but Trindall said they can’t get caught up concentrating on one or two players and spoke about maintaining the intensity through every session.

“We clock off for half an hour or an hour and the momentum can change,” he said.

The former NSW Country quick has no qualms about what on paper appears a bit of a green bowling attack at this level.

“We’ve just got to more patient and more consistent with the ball than the batter,” he said.

They do probably have a bit more flexibility in the attack this year, and there is plenty of allrounders to back up the frontline bowlers.

Trindall mentioned the likes of Josh Geary, Michael Rixon and Lincoln Mills.

“We’ve got so much variety. Tommy (Groth) has the luxury of four or five different varieties to call on,” he said.

That is complimented by an order that bats deep. Trindall also likes the balance.

Here showing his ability with the willow for South Tamworth last Saturday, Tom O'Neill will be a key with the ball for Central North when they begin their Country Championship campaign in Inverell on Friday.

Here showing his ability with the willow for South Tamworth last Saturday, Tom O'Neill will be a key with the ball for Central North when they begin their Country Championship campaign in Inverell on Friday.

“We’ve got some really aggressive players and some real match winners,” he said.

And importantly batsmen in form. Simon Norvill clubbed a powerful 65 last Sunday to follow a 63 on Saturday, while Rixon, who will come in for Saturday and Sunday, has scored 90 and 61 in his two club knocks.

Coby Cornish meanwhile made an unbeaten 82 for Bective East on Saturday.

Groth too has been in pretty good nick while Lachlan Cameron, who will play the Sunday game, already has a ton and 94 to his name.

Day 1 draw:  North Coastal v Western (McCosker 1); Newcastle v Central North (Varley Oval).