Fresh from helping his Tamworth Blue under-16s side reach the Stan Austin carnival final for the first time in over five years, Kurt Barton will suit up for the Tamworth Blue senior side as they look to lock in a home Connolly Cup semi-final.
A final round win over Gunnedah in Tamworth on Sunday will see the unbeaten Blues finish on top in the Western Conference.
It will be Barton’s second game for the Blue after making his debut in their second round win over Gwydir.
Opening the bowling alongside under-16s team-mate Josh Attard, Barton looked far from out of place picking up 3-16.
“It was a bit surprising,” Barton admitted.
“I only just started playing first grade.”
He had in fact only made his top-grade debut for Bective-East the previous week.
After playing the opening two games of the season in second grade, the quick was elevated to the first grade side when they were a bit short.
Impressing, he has pretty much stayed there.
“It’s been a big step up. I pretty much went from third grade to first grade,” he said.
One of the biggest transitions of that has.been playing on turf week on week out rather than synthetic, and the vagaries of that.
He noted there is a lot more pressure on the fielding and what was a good ball in third grade might not be in first grade.
But it’s all a part of the learning process and his game is the better for it.
On Sunday he will be part of what is a blossoming young side with Attard, Jack Hamilton, Callum Henry and Kilian Apen all backing up from Bradman Cup duties.
Hamilton and Attard were two of the final day stars for Central North as they notched their second win of the carnival. Henry and Apen also performed strongly against the best Country-based under-16 players.
Missing Attard as well as Jess Davidson and Joey Mead, making the final at Taree was a bit unexpected, Barton said.
“We didn’t think due to the higher level players being out that we would go so well,” he said.
Hunter Valley though proved too good for them in the decider.
After bowling Hunter out for 178, their innings never really got going and despite a dogged unbeaten 31 from captain Oscar Spinks they were bundled out for 92.
“We lost a few early wickets and it just kept going from there,” Barton said.
Taking the new ball he was pretty happy with how he bowled.
“I got a few wickets, which was pretty nice,” he said.
He finished with eight wickets for the carnival, twice picking up three wickets.
TAMWORTH CONNOLLY CUP SIDE: Ben Middlebrook (captain), Adam Lole, Callum Henry, Nathan Mann, Travis Ling, Jack Hamilton, Matt Zell, Kilian Apen, Matt Holmes, Kurt Barton, Richard Bullock, James Austin.