Northern Rivers assistant coach Travis Colley expects his under-14 cricket team to blow the Barwon Rockets off the park if they play to their potential in Sunday’s state championships grand final in Dandenong.
Five players from the Bendigo District Cricket Association – plus Sam Elliott who has taken a scholarship at a Melbourne school this year – are in the team for the 40-over Cricket Victorian State Championships showdown.
Northern Rivers has never won the under-14s division, with the victor on Sunday set to be the first country side to win the division.
Northern Rivers has only previously won the Dowling Shield for the under-16 division five years ago.
Colley said the team – featuring Bendigo United’s Jasper Stewart and Jack Bouwmeester, Strathdale-Maristians’ Cooper Jones, plus Bendigo Cricket Club cousins Xavier Ryan and James Ryan – is one of the most talented he’s seen.
After losing the opening round, the Northern Rivers team went through the next four games undefeated.
“They haven’t played to their full potential yet, if they play well I’ve got no doubt that they’ll win – it’s probably one of the more talented sides we’ve had since I’ve started which was five years ago,” Colley said.
The six Bendigo players fill many important roles in the side, with Xavier Ryan the captain and an opening batsman while his cousin James has taken many crucial wickets with his leg spin.
Jasper Stewart is the team’s wicket-keeper and a budding batting star, while Cooper Jones has contributed many handy runs at the top order.
Jack Bouwmeester and Sam Elliott – the son of former Test opening batsman Matthew – are capable of destroying teams with their all-round abilities.
The Tim Kelly-coached team includes players from Shepparton, Moama and Kyabram.
The grand final will be played at Wilson Oval in Dandenong.