Last year Western produced its best effort at the NSW Primary Schools Sport Association (PSSA) Cricket State Championships in recent memory.
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Western finished third then but when this season’s campaign starts at Orange on Monday coach Jordan Moran won’t be putting too much pressure on his new-look side.
Captain Fergus Fergusson is the only player remaining from the side which stunned many more fancied rivals last season,
“If we finish in the top half then we’ve done a good job so seventh or higher is my goal,” Moran said.
“Leading into last year we’d been 13th for about the past four or five seasons so to get there last year was remarkable.
“But if we can finish top half this year it will be an achievement, especially when there’s sides there who train at the SCG twice a week and have access to high-level coaches and ex-state players.”
Three Dubbo players are in the team – Dugald Shepherd, Charlie Tink and Rudy Peet – and there are many more familiar names in the lineup too.
The surname Tink has featured prominently in Western Zone’s past while Shepherd’s father Glenn is well-known in local cricket circles.
Two of the biggest names in the team, however, are those of Dunford and Hawke.
Western Zone cricketers from the past decade would recognise those surnames as those of the opening bowlers from Parkes who terrorised the region’s batting lineups time and time again.
“There’s some good pedigree there,” Moran said.
“Ryan Dunford made the state hockey side so he’s got really good hand-eye coordination and he bowls like his old man too.
“Hunter (Hawke) bowls good too but he’s been picked as wicketkkeper. He’s got really good hands and that’s crucial at a carnival like this.”
Moran added he was also expecting good things from Peet and Fergusson, a youngster he describes as someone with “a good head on his shoulders”.
Angus Cornish, who attends Nashdale Primary School, is another the coach is keen on seeing this week.
“He (Cornish) is only in year five but he’s one of the most technically correct little batsmen I’ve seen in some time so this will be a good chance and a development year for him,” Moran said, adding he only needed to see the youngster face two or three balls at the trials before deciding he was up to the challenge.
For Moran, this week also offers the chance to be involved in the other side of the game.
The Australian Country representative is currently sidelined through injury but stated he loves the coaching side as much as he does plundering runs on a regular basis.
“It brings back a lot of memories going through this pathway back when I was playing on the north coast and now I’m able to pass things on and be a model for these younger guys,” he said.
“You get as much jot seeing them succeed as you do your own success.”
Western is joined at the Championships by defending champions South Coast, Mackillop, CIS, Riverina, Sydney North, Sydney West, Polding, North West, Hunter, North Coast, Sydney South West, Sydney East and Barrier.
Western opens its campaign against Hunter on Monday.
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