The Basil Sellers Under 16 Male State Challenge held at Raby Sports Complex this week represented an opportunity for many emerging young cricketers to state their case for higher honours next season.
The enormous potential within the Under 16 age group was on show as players from Metropolitan NSW, as well as Country areas of the state and the ACT, competed for a place at the 2019/20 Under 17 Male National Championships.
Performances at the State Challenge will form the basis of selection for preliminary NSW Metro and ACT/NSW Country squads to compete at those championships. Each squad will train during the winter months.
The State Challenge featured four teams who each played three limited-overs matches. Two represented NSW Metro and two comprised players from ACT/NSW Country.
One team from Metropolitan NSW and ACT/NSW Country represented each of the Sydney Big Bash League franchises, the Thunder and Sixers.
Cricket NSW Metropolitan Coaching and Talent Manager, Gavan Twining, said it was a very worthwhile three days of cricket.
“(Having) the best Metro and Country players together playing each other created some tight games, and interesting contests between bat and ball, with the spinners performing really well on spinning pitches,” Twining said.
One of the stand out performers was Lismore batsman Charles Mitchell.
He claimed the Warren Smith Medal as Country player of the carnival for the second successive season.
Mitchell averaged over 70 from his three matches for Country Sixers. Metro Sixers finished the tournament undefeated.
Northern District opening batter Corey Miller also made a significant contribution with the bat for Metro Thunder. He posted the highest score of the carnival, 98 from 119 balls, on day one, Sunday.
“It was a shame to see him dismissed two short of the milestone … he deserved a century,” said Twining.
Metro Sixers left-arm seamer Ellis Sherriff claimed the best figures for the carnival on day one during a 115-run win over Country Thunder. He returned 5-15 from 7.4 overs.
Cricket NSW Coach and Pathway Manager for Southern NSW, Greg McLay, was impressed by the efforts of the ACT/NSW Country players despite a challenging day one.
“(The competition) provided some challenges on day one where the polished Metro teams were able to dominate,” said McLay, who played six First Class matches for the NSW Blues in the 1990/91 season.
“The exciting part for me was the ability of the Country boys to respond to that challenge on day two where we had a win over one of the Metro teams and were able to provide a competitive match in the other.
“Mitchell showed his class again throughout the State Challenge, but was ably supported by players such as Tom Kellar, Tim Martin and Jack Hartigan, who all had good moments with the bat.
“Our fast bowlers all contributed with the standouts being Harrison Nemme, Nick Toohey and Aidan Cahill.”
Ambidextrous Australian Under 16 allrounder Nivethan Radhakrishnan made the most of the spinning wickets. Bowling a combination of off breaks and left-arm orthodox spin, the Hawkesbury teenager collected six wickets at an average of 11 from three matches for Metro Sixers.
Country Thunder replacement player, Joey Cant, also returned six scalps with spin.
Wicketkeeper Lachlan Shaw was outstanding for Metro Thunder.
“Shaw, who played for the Under 17 NSW Metro team at the National Championships earlier this season, kept extremely well, showing his skills up over the stumps to the spinning ball,” Twining said.
McLay was also impressed by the efforts of new faces in the Cricket NSW Pathways system, pace bowlers Dylan Smith from Wee Waa and Harry McGregor from Orange.
“This was their first time playing at this level and they both did some excellent things with the ball,” McLay said.
Based on the performances at the State Challenge during the week, both Twining and McLay were excited about what lies ahead in coming months for the NSW Metro and ACT/Country squads.
“I think there are exciting times ahead for this group of players. There is much to look forward to,” said McLay.
“When the squad is selected in May, we feel that there will be a very good balance, with some extremely talented and highly skilled young cricketers,” said Twining.