POSSIBLE: Newcastle off-spinner Nick Foster will be in contention for NSW Country squad. Picture: Marina NeilUp to four Newcastle cricketers are expected to earn Bush Blues’ caps for January’s national campaign when the NSW Country squad is announced this week.
The representative team, set for official release on Wednesday, will be named in the wake ofNewcastle claiming athird NSW Country Championshipstitle in five seasonson the weekend.
Newcastle defeated Central Coast by three wickets in the 2017-2018 decider at Bowral’s Bradman Oval to seal an undefeated campaign and coach Shane Burley said tickets to the n Country Championships in Geraldton were just rewards.
“For us, we’re all about winning that trophy because these guys are really proud to represent Newcastle,” Burley said.
“To earn a cap is a by-product of that and another reward for their efforts.”
Newcastle quartet Burt Cockley, Nathan Price, Nick Foster andJoe Price are the most likely candidates with skipper Mark Littlewood, last season’s n Country XI member Pat Darwen and left-arm opening bowler Dan Morton all unavailable.
Former first-class paceman Cockley, by chance, and all-rounder Nathan Price, by choice, are back playing first grade in Newcastle this summer while off-spinner Foster and form dangerman Joe Price are both Bush Blues’ incumbents.
Newcastle rookie Dylan Hunter also put himself into contention with a hard-hitting half-century in Sunday’s showdown as well as picking up 4-22 with his left-arm orthodox spinners during the preliminary rounds at Inverell earlier this month.
NSW Country will be coached by Jeff Cook.
The national titles will take place in Western from January 5 to 13.
Meanwhile the Newcastle Steel side will give injured Joe Price (groin) all week to prove his fitness for Sunday’s crunchNSW Premier T20 Cup game against Sutherland at Glenn McGrath Oval. Price went down in a double header at home last weekendand may be replacedby Jonty Durrheim, who has been put on standby.
And finally the Newcastle under-18team will be ledby Josh Claridge at next month’s NSW Country Colts Championships inTamworth (December 18-21).