Western Zone captain Jameel Qureshi feels this season's squad the strongest assembled since the all-conquering teams of last decade.
After winning three titles in the space of five seasons between 2012 and 2017, there has been little for Western Zone fans to cheer about at the Country Championship.
But Bathurst talent Qureshi is confident of Western's chances in 2021/22 after a 14-man squad was released on Monday.
Qureshi has stayed on as captain and will lead a group loaded with proven performers and a number of players who have returned home after experiencing a higher level away from country cricket.
Western will play Illawarra, Riverina, and ACT Southern Districts at the three-day Southern Pool carnival at Shoalhaven from February 4-6 and Qureshi is determined to do the region proud.
"For me, on a personal level, it's been a tough two seasons but it's a job I felt an obligation to continue," Qureshi said.
"With this squad, there's been a bit of an investment put in and there's some guys who have come back, if we play our best cricket we'll be pretty hard to beat."
Patterson is back with club side CYMS after spending time in NSW Premier Cricket in Sydney and his impact has been immediate.
In one simply incredible individual showing prior to Christmas Patterson blasted 101 not out from 39 balls and took 5/24 in the one game and it's performances like that which have Qureshi excited.
"Obviously Ben Patterson is a standout," Qureshi said.
"I'd say he's the best all-rounder in NSW country cricket and he's just a very talented cricketer."
As two-time defending champions in the WZPL, Bathurst is well represented in the squad.
Nic Broes is in after a stint playing in Canberra while Ryan Peacock, Connor Slattery, and Mitch Taylor will also pull on a baggy blue alongside Qureshi.
Gilgandra's Matt Everett, a former opening bat partner of David Warner at Randwick-Petersham, is another big inclusion after impressing with a half-century in his one Western Zone Premier League (WZPL) match for Dubbo earlier in the month.
"You run through the whole list and there's some special cricketers so it's hard to single too many out," Qureshi added.
"I was talking to Mitchy Bower about it. I won one [Country Championship] with Western Zone in 2012/13 and I think he's won a couple but he said it's probably the strongest squad since then.
"It looks red-hot."
Western starts its Southern Pool carnival against Illawarra at the Bernie Reagan Sports Ground on February 4.
All Country Championship matches are one-day 50-over contests.
WESTERN ZONE: Jameel Qureshi (c, Bathurst), Mitch Bower (v/c, Dubbo), Nic Broes (Bathurst), Matt Everett (Gilgandra), Marty Jeffrey (Dubbo), Brock Larance (Dubbo), Hugh Le Lievre (Orange), Ben Patterson (Dubbo), Ryan Peacock (Bathurst), Mat Skinner (Dubbo), Connor Slattery (Bathurst), Mitch Taylor (Bathurst), Brent Tucker (Parkes), Ben Wheeler (Dubbo).
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