The Queensland Under-19 side, inspired by an unbeaten half century from opener Angus Lovell and key wickets from captain Nathan McSweeney, has won their opening match today of the national championships.
A swag of emerging Queensland cricket stars are ready to rocket into the new year.
The launching pad is the 2017-18 Cricket Australia Under 19 National Championships, which started in Tasmania on Monday.
Gold Coast pair Xavier Bartlett and Max Bryant, Northern Suburbs players Mitch Connolly and Nathan McSweeney, Harrison Macoun and Harry Wood from Ipswich/Logan and Wests’ Blake Edwards are hoping some strong performances at the titles will help cement their spots in the Australian squad to take on the world’s top young cricket talent at the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.
The Cup will be played in New Zealand from 13 January-3 February.
The young guns were all named in the preliminary squad of 28 and will be hoping to impress selectors and ensure they make the final cut.
“The Under 19 National Championships are a great opportunity for Australia’s rising stars to test themselves against the best in the country in their age group,” Cricket Australia’s Pathways Manager Graham Manou said.
“Twenty players from last year’s tournament earned state contracts for 2017-18 – and nine players at this year’s carnival are already on state contracts. That shows how high the standard of the Under 19 National Championships are, and how important they are as part of the Pathway,” he said.
Emerging allrounder and captain McSweeney (3-21) and leg-spinner Macoun (3-37) started the tournament in style in Queensland’s strong victory over Victoria Country in the second match of the titles after the opening rounds were rain affected with the young Maroons not getting a match in against WA in the tournament opener.
Players who aren’t in the preliminary squad but who perform well at the titles can also come into consideration for World Cup selection, and Sunshine Coast opener Angus Lovell did his hopes no harm with an impressive 73 not out to steer Queensland home against the Vics.
Lovell, the leading runs-scorer in the National Under-17 competition a year ago, proved the batting rock for Queensland as they chased down Vic Country's total of 9-158, reaching 5-159 in the 32nd over.
Besides continuing to push their claims for the World Cup, the Queensland players will also be putting their best foot forward for the chance to be a part of the electrifying atmosphere of the KFC Big Bash League.
The titles will provide a good chance to push for selection for the second BBL Pathways Curtain-Raiser between the Ponting XII and Gilchrist XII, which will be played on 5 January ahead of the Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers match at The Gabba in Brisbane.
Added to this is the opportunity to push for a spot in the three-game Under-19 series against Pakistan from 27-31 December in Melbourne.
“It’s a massive year for our Under 19 cricketers. We are determined to provide great experiences for our emerging stars, and there are definitely a few of those ahead for players who perform well over the next two weeks,” Manou said.
Queensland: Nathan McSweeney (C), Lachlan Prince, Ben Maynard, Harrison Wood, Harrison Macoun, Max Bryant, Isiah Snell, Zak Honeybrook. Donal Whyte, Angus Lovell, Blake Edwards, Mitchell Connolly, Xavier Bartlett.