Making it about the love of the game will be the key to success in the State Challenge and beyond, according to Country Thunder South West 14s assistant coach Richie Richarsdson.
The Dubbo-based mentor is working alongside former Sheffield Shield player, and now Cricket NSW coaching and talent specialist, Greg McLay for the carnival commencing in Dubbo on Monday.
The best 13 and 14-year-old cricketers from across the state will converge on Dubbo for the annual event, and Richardson is confident the side will hold its own against the best the city can produce.
“I think we’ve got a well-balanced side,” Richardson said.
“Obviously there’ll be some very, very good cricketers here from NSW – the best 13 and 14-year-old cricketers in the state will all be here this week – so not underestimating the size of the challenge but the good thing is we’re playing on our home ground under our conditions so I think we’ll go pretty well.
“If we stick to the plans and the boys perform to their ability, I think we’ll have some good results.”
Richardson’s side includes top-order batter and leg-spinner Ant Atlee, who at just 13 has already played two RSL-Whitney Cup games for RSL Colts.
The rising star said he was “pretty excited” to “get a few runs, take a few wickets and win a few games” less than two weeks after returning from a star turn for Western at the Kookaburra Cup in Albury.
There Atlee was the fourth-highest run-scorer of the tournament (171 runs with a strike rate of 86.4) and ranked fourth with the ball in hand (seven wickets with best figures of 3-19).
Dubbo’s Harrison Quinn also starred for Western at the Kookaburra Cup, scoring 57 runs at a strike rate of 172.7. The off-spinner just missed out on a top 10 ranking with the ball, taking 5-46 with best figures of 3-21.
“There’s going to be some good players there and you need to stay hydrated and stuff because it’s going to be hot during the week,” Quinn said.
The pair will also reconnect with Western Kookaburra Cup teammates Rudy Peet (Dubbo, who had best figures of 1-11) and Angus Parsons (Bathurst, 1-9) when they take on Metro Sixers North East in Monday’s State Challenge opener.
“There will be some expectation of good performances from the team, but at the end of the day you’ve still go to keep it grounded – we are talking about 13 and 14 year old kids,” Richardson said.
“You’ve got to keep that passion in the kids, otherwise they won’t get through to that higher pathway when they’re 16, 17 – they’ll be burnt out by that stage.”
COUNTRY THUNDER SOUTH WEST 14S: Anthony Atlee, Rudy Peet, Angus Parsons, Harrison Quinn (Western), Hayden Forner ©, Jake Scott, Ben Signor, Jack Glanvill, Charlie Guymer, Dominic McCrohan, Noah Gaske, Charlie Hillier and Ethan Hanrahan (Riverina).
Dubbo youngsters Ty Sissian and Fletcher Hyde will make their State Challenge debuts on Monday against Metro Sixers North East, and the duo couldn’t be more excited.
Hyde, a batter, has spent a lot of time this summer in the nets, and has a ball on a string at home which he “makes me play straight”.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said of the forecast, with the mercury set to hit 38 in Dubbo on Monday.
“It’s a good experience to play against a lot of the better players from the city.”
Sissian, a fast bowler, was looking forward to “playing with my friends and getting wickets”, and knows his job: “try and bowl to the right spot on the pitch and figure out ways to get people out”.
COUNTRY THUNDER SOUTH WEST 13S: Gus Cornish ©, Harry Roscarel, Fletcher Hyde, Tyson Deebank, Riley Keen, Ty Sissian (Western), Veni Sharma, Shaun Smith, Caleb Walker, Sam Drew, Lachie Higman, Noah Harper and Jordan Rhodes (Riverina).
Dubbo’s Richie Richardson says nothing can compare to being part of Cricket NSW’s coaching pathway at this year’s State Challenge.
“It’s very exciting to see the best cricketers in NSW come together in Dubbo,” Richardson said.
“To be a part of it in some small way as an assistant coach … is so exciting.”
Richardson began coaching St Johns in the 1990s and has helped with son Max and his teams, but has only recently stepped up to coaching at a representative level.
“I’ve always had a love and a passion for cricket,” he said.
“Now that my playing days are over … I’m just trying to work with the younger kids to help them be the best cricketers they can be.”
See the teams’ full schedules here.