The thought of supporting an English captain at the Sydney Cricket Ground this summer is purely un-Australian.
But all those in Western Zone will be pinning their hopes on a man from Manchester this weekend as the Orana Outlaws contest the Plan B Regional Bash on the hallowed turf of the SCG.
Greg Buckley will skipper the defending premiers in Sunday afternoon’s semi-final clash with the Wagga Wagga Sloggers and victory there would secure a place in the final under lights that night.
“It’s a really good feeling and I know a lot of people are going to be talking about an English boy captaining at the SCG,” Buckley laughed.
“But I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve played on quite a few country grounds (in England) but the SCG just has more of a ring to it and I didn’t this would happen.”
Buckley took over this season after Mitch Bower and former marquee player Nathan Pilon had captained the Outlaws to the SCG in the first two editions of the NSW Country Cricket Twenty20 tournament.
However, Buckley hasn’t had a chance to lead his side yet as the entire Thunder Conference carnival at Orange last month was washed out.
The Outlaws advanced to the finals day courtesy of being the defending premiers and highest-ranked Thunder Conference side.
“We haven’t played a game but we do deserve it (going to the SCG) because we’re the champions,” Buckley said.
“It’s hard when we’ve got four or five new players this season who haven’t been under that type of pressure before and we haven’t played much Twenty20. Everyone else would have played at least one game.”
Combine the poor preparation with injuries to reigning NSW Country Player of the Year Jordan Moran, Mat Skinner, Jacob McNaught and Jacob Harvey as well as the fact Pilon and Ben Patterson are unavailable and many are questioning if the Outlaws have got what it takes to defend their title.
But Buckley has no doubt his new-look side can better the Sloggers and then either the Newcastle Blasters or Northern Rivers Rock.
The Rock was the side the Outlaws downed in last season’s decider.
“I think we’ve got a really good chance, especially with the younger boys coming through,” Buckley said.
“We’ve got a bit of pace with Tommy Atlee and Henry Railz coming in and that’s exciting and we’ve also got Darrel Williams over this year with his spin and on the big ground he will be key.
“And then with the bat we’ve got power hitters in the middle order with Mitchy (Bower), myself and Wes (Giddings) and then you’ve got someone like Brock Larance who looks a million dollars here on a weekend so it will be good to see how he goes on a better pitch against better bowlers.
“We’ve got a really good shot.”
Giddings came into the squad this week after Parkes-based Harvey was forced out with a hand injury.
The semi-final is at 2pm Sunday with the decider at 6pm.