GRIFFITH is set to unleash its strongest representative side in years for Sunday’s SCG Country Shield clash with Leeton, according to skipper Marc Tucker.
The squad for the match at Exies Oval reads as a veritable who’s who of the local game, with selectors delighted at what appears to be a welcome spike in interest towards representative cricket.
Young guns Connor Matheson, Tom Shannon and Alex Flood are set to make their senior rep debuts in a star-studded side that also features Coro captain Haydn Pascoe, returning Exies paceman Chris Mansell and in-form Yenda batsman Tom Spry.
The only glaring absentees from the team are powerful all-rounders Paul Plummer and Jarrod Cahill, and Exies batsman Justin Winkler, who are all unavailable this weekend.
Tucker told The Area News he can’t wait to lead such a strong outfit on Sunday, with Griffith warm favourites to take the win.
“I’m confident. It’s always good when you can put a really strong side together and the boys are looking to get a pretty good win out of this weekend,” he said.
“It’s pretty close to our best side so it’ll be good to see how we go.
“It’s probably the strongest rep side we’ve fielded for three or four years.
“If we can get off to a good start we’ll be on the way to a big score, with the line-up we’ve got. We should be able to bat pretty deep – we’ve got Chris Mansell and the likes of those guys right down the order, who are more than handy at the crease.
“It’s good to see a few boys are keen for rep cricket again - hopefully we can have a win and field another strong team for the next one and keep these guys together for the O’Farrell Cup later in the season.”
Tucker said he was looking forward to seeing how the likes of Matheson, Shannon and Flood handle the occasion.
“Connor’s had his 10 days with that touring squad he went to in Sri Lanka earlier in the year, so he’s done quite a few things,” he said.
“He’s really stepped up in the last few years and Tom Shannon’s always reliable and a pretty handy bowler, and so is Floody. We’re looking pretty good, I think.”
Griffith has stepped down to the second-tier SCG Country Shield this season, which is a knockout competition that features teams including Mudgee, Ballina, Lismore and colts sides from the Murray Valley and Albury-Wodonga.
The decision was made after continued issues with player availability and a general lack of enthusiasm for representative cricket.
There was little joy for Griffith last season in any competition - but Tucker said he hoped those days were behind the team.
“We just couldn’t field a full-strength team. It was always a good side but up against Albury and Wagga and those calibre of teams... if we can’t field our full-strength side we’re virtually buggered against them,” he said.
Tucker admitted he didn’t know what to expect from Leeton on Sunday.
“I think they’ve been a bit like us - not really keen on rep cricket anymore across the board,” he said.
“Last year we played them in the Creet Cup and they beat us, and I’ve heard they’ll have a pretty handy side this time around, so I presume it’s mostly the same.”
Griffith has named a 12-man squad for the SCG Country Shield clash. The competition allows teams to field 12 players, but teams must nominate one player to be excluded from bowling and one from batting.