The region’s best junior cricketers will descend on Dubbo this week for the annual Max Shepherd Shield.
The long-running under 14s invitational carnival showcases a high standard of play every year, and convener Glenn Shepherd (no relation to Max) is confident this year will be no exception.
“What we’re trying to do is offer an early season opportunity for kids in the Central West and beyond to get a gauge on how their travelling for the season, and show off a few of their skills,” Shepherd said.
Six teams will take part in this year’s carnival, including two from Dubbo and one each from Lachlan, Orange and Bathurst. A sixth, ‘Barbarians’ team will combine kids from outside of those centres, with one junior travelling all the way from Bourke.
ALSO MAKING NEWS
“It’s a really good standard,” Shepherd said.
“We’ve got players that have gone on to to do some really good things with their cricket so we’ll be looking to see that happen again.”
Past participants include Dubbo juniors Brock Larance (Australian under 16s, Australian Indigenous tour of England) and Tom Atlee (NSW Country); proof, Shepherd said, of the talent such a carnival could uncover.
He hoped their success could inspire this year’s competitors.
“Quite often you hear names [of locals that have gone on to play at a high level] that may not mean as much to these kids,” Shepherd said.
“But Brock and Tom, they were only involved in this carnival five or so years ago, so the kids can see those opportunities, it’s a bit more tangible for them.”
Teams will compete for points in three, 45-over games across the three days, with points also on offer for runs scored and wickets taken.
Dubbo Blue (under 14s) will begin their campaign against the Barbarians on Tuesday before taking on Orange and Bathurst, while Dubbo White (under 13s) will face Orange, Bathurst and Barbarians.
The man behind the carnival, Max Shepherd himself, will be on hand to award trophies on Thursday.
“He spent a lot of time here and he was very passionate about boosting opportunities for representative cricket out here,” Shepherd said of the carnival’s founder.
“So he started the carnival as a means of giving kids west of the mountains a chance to play good quality cricket, and we’re obviously trying to continue that on.
“It’s the first time he's been back since I’ve been involved – about six of seven years – so we’re very excited to have him here this year.”