WHEN Matthew Tabbernor takes his Western Zone side to the New South Wales Country Colts Championships later this month, it will be with the knowledge he has a squad talented enough to win the coveted title.
While the colts age group has this season changed to under 18s, the players Tabbernor will have in action at Tamworth are not only regular first graders, but most have represented their respective cricket associations at an open level.
That sort of experience is valuable to the coach given Western is aiming to play the maximum five games in four days.
“It is a very strong side, it’s probably the best side we’ve had for quite a few years,” Tabbernor said.
“We’ve had a young side, but now they’re all into the right age group and have a lot of experience, I know selectors had great difficulty trying to narrow it down to a 13-man squad, which is a good problem to have.
“I think if we go through the list of the team, I think nearly everyone is in the open side for their towns in Western Zone Premier League. That is really good experience for them for when they go away to these carnivals as the standard is very high.
“They are playing against guys who have made New South Wales-ACT Country state sides, high up cricket, and top level schoolboy cricket. So the more experience they can get playing representative cricket, especially men’s cricket, that definitely helps them.”
Tabbernor’s squad includes a plethora of Dubbo players, and will be led by CYMS Cougars first grade skipper Ben Knaggs. Marty Jeffrey will be one of two vice-captains in the side.
The rest of the squad comes from Bathurst and Orange.
“It’s really good for Western Zone cricket as a whole that our talent is starting to spread out, we’ve got a couple of players from Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo even Corey McDean is originally from Forbes,” Tabbernor said.
“We are starting top see talented players from all over the region and it should make our competitions strong for many years to come.”
The carnival, which starts on December 18, sees Western in a pool alongside Riverina, Illawarra and Newcastle. The best performed of those four will go on to the finals on December 21 against the best of pool A, which involves ACT Southern, North Coastal, Central Coast and Central Northern.
It is not an easy pool, but Tabbernor believes his side is good enough.
“Riverina won the Bradman Cup last year, which is under 16s, so you’d think that a few of them will step up into the colts age group, and Newcastle is always strong at any level of cricket. Then we’ve got Illawarra who are a bit of an unknown, so we’ve got to treat that as being as tough as any other game, it’s not an easy pool,” he said.
- WESTERN ZONE COLTS: Ben Knaggs (c), Marty Jeffrey (v/c), Nic Broes (v/c), Thomas Nelson, Tom Atlee, Brock Larance, Corey McDean, Ben Parsons, Hamish Starr, Luke Powell, Charlie Greer, Henry Railz, Fletcher Rose.