Cricket NSW has signaled a new era for the Blues, promoting five exciting young cricketers from rookie contracts to the state squad.
Australian Under 19 captain Jason Sangha, his well performed team mate Param Uppal, leg-spinner Dan Fallins, towering fast bowler Mickey Edwards and fellow quick Liam Hatcher have all been upgraded from rookie contracts.
They replace batsman Nic Maddinson and reserve wicket-keeper Jay Lenton, who have not been re-contracted, Gurinder Sandhu, who has opted to leave for Tasmania, and Ed Cowan and Doug Bollinger, who announced their retirements during the 2017/18 season.
The emphasis on youth has continued with the Blues’ rookie list containing more Under 19 Australian representatives.
Wicketkeeper Baxter Holt, batting allrounder Jack Edwards, the younger brother of Mickey, and fast bowler Ryan Hadley were amongst seven NSW players in the squad that lost the final of the Under 19 World Cup to India in New Zealand held in early February.
Run-hungry young opener Ryan Hackney and raw fast bowler Chad Sammut have also been added to the rookie list while batsman Jordan Gauci has been retained.
Cricket NSW Chief Executive Andrew Jones said it was an exciting new era in NSW cricket.
“NSW has always been the No.1 producer of cricket talent in Australia and we are deliberately giving the opportunity for a new generation to shine,” Mr Jones said.
“States have the dual roles of winning titles and producing players for Australia. NSW aims to continue doing both with this list.”
Eighteen-year-old Sangha is a key inclusion in the full-time squad after a breakout 2017/18 season.
Along with 21-year-old Fallins, Sangha made his First-Class debut against the touring England Ashes squad at the Adelaide Oval in early November, and then a week later, broke new ground.
He became the second youngest player after Indian great Sachin Tendulkar to score a First-Class century against England by compiling 133 from 226 balls in Townsville, and the youngest to achieve such a feat in Australia since the great Ricky Ponting in 1992/93.
Sangha, who is a product of Newcastle cricket and currently plays for Randwick Petersham in McDonald’s NSW Premier Cricket, was also the leading run-scorer for Australia at the Under 19 World Cup earlier this year with 229 runs at the solid average of 38.16.
Fellow 18-year-old Jack Edwards from the Manly-Warringah club, was second leading-run scorer, opening the batting for Australia at the tournament. He posted 216 runs at 43.2.
Uppal didn’t disappoint at the World Cup either. He scored 131 runs at 32.75 and claimed three wickets at the tidy economy rate of 3.73 with his off-spin.
A magnificent 133 from 241 balls for NSW Metro in the Toyota Futures League, coupled with match figures of 5-85, also earned Uppal his First-Class debut in the Sheffield Shield against Victoria in early March.
Hadley was another of the newly contracted players to show significant promise at the Under 19 World Cup.
He returned three wickets opening the attack in each of his five matches and has shown good pace representing his state and country at the Under 19 level.
Despite the tremendous potential, Mr Jones said the organisation realised it will take time for these players to develop at the elite level.
“(There) will be occasions when patience is required,” Mr Jones said.
“However, we are confident we are bringing through an outstanding generation of cricketers.”
Cricket NSW General Manager of Cricket Performance David Moore noted that the new additions had all earned their opportunities.
“We choose players based on both performance and potential and all of the latest additions have shown signs of what they are capable of at the next level,” Mr Moore said.
“Param (Uppal), Mickey (Edwards) and Dan (Fallins) all made their debuts for the Blues last season while Jason made a first-class century against England during a tour match in Townsville last November and Liam (Hatcher) has previously represented the Cricket Australia XI in the state one-day competition.”
Hatcher claimed 10 wickets at 27.10 from four matches for NSW Metro in the Futures League last season.
Young Penrith opening batsman Ryan Hackney earned his place on the list after he amassed an incredible 1,472 runs at 81.78 over the past three seasons for NSW Metro at the Under 19 and Under 17 level.
While the investment in youth points to an exciting new era for NSW cricket, the process also involved some very difficult decisions.
“We have made the tough decision to release Nic Maddinson. Nic is a mercurial talent who has played Test cricket but he lacked consistency for the Blues at Sheffield Shield level, averaging under 33 across the past eight seasons,” said Mr Moore.
“NSW is an ‘up or out’ system and we now need to give new players their opportunity. We wish Nic well in the future and hope he achieves his potential in the game.”
NSW Blues Squad