ACT's young talent on display at Age National Championships

Throughout the 2023/24 season, the ACT proudly sent four underage teams to compete in Cricket Australia’s annual National Championships. The tournament provided excellent opportunities for ACT teams to showcase and test their abilities against some of the nation’s top talent in their respective age groups. The teams represented the ACT in four different age groups across the country:

  • Female U16s in Hobart
  • Male U17s in Ballarat
  • Female U19s in Brisbane, and
  • Male U19s in Albury. 

In recognition of their strong performances, four ACT players were named in Cricket Australia’s prestigious Team of the Tournament for their respective age group:

  • Haripriya Rathod (U16s Female)
  • Tom Hogan (U17s Male)
  • Paris Bowlder (U19s Female), and
  • Amy Hunter (U19s Female).
ACT players selected in respective age Team of the Tournament. Left to right: Haripriya Rathod (U16s Female), Tom Hogan (U17s Male), Paris Bowlder (U19s Female) and Amy Hunter (U19s Female).

ACT high performance coaching staff, Vusi Sibanda, Jake Floros, Michael Minns and Jono Dean each spoke about their respective team's experience and highlights.

Female U16s - Coach: Vusi Sibanda 

“It was a good learning opportunity for the girls to showcase their skills with the bat and ball and furthering their experience in a competitive environment. For such a young group participating in the National Championships, I was pleased to see how quickly they improved in all three facets of the game.

“Our bowlers challenged opposition batsmen consistently, with notable performances from Haripriya Rathod, only 13 years of age who finished the 6th leading wicket taker of the tournament with ten wickets at an average of 20.3 and Josephine Sill who was the 9th leading wicket taker of the tournament with nine wickets at an average of 19.

“Our batters displayed a good understanding of the game. Brianna Dillon and Ahaana Chauhan were both outstanding, scoring over 250 runs between the two of them. Taking into account the limited level of competitive cricket experience they had prior to this National Championship, I was proud of how the girls played throughout the tournament.”

Female U19s – Coach: Michael Minns

 “A warm week in Brisbane saw some excellent cricket and a great opportunity for our girls to put their skills on display after a targeted preparation. The tournament was split in to two parts: four T20 matches over the first two days, and four one-day games to finish the week. Although going winless in the T20 format, the ACT girls put up a highly competitive performances against last year’s grand finalists NSW Metro (the eventual champions) and Victoria Country. Lightning and DLS unfortunately played a role in a narrow loss to Victoria Metro as well.

“It was a complete turnaround in the one-day format, however, with the girls going undefeated and finishing equal top in the format. Comprehensive victories over Grand Finalists Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and PNG were a just reward for the team who played a fantastic brand of cricket across the week and developed some genuine belief that we could compete on the National Stage.

“Our performances in the 50-over format were highly memorable. A dominant win against one of the pre-tournament favourites, in Queensland, was a huge team highlight. Another highlight was a brutal 196-run victory on the final day against Papua New Guinea, where the girls bowled the PNG side out for 21 in 14.3 overs.

“There were multiple standout performers across the week, contracted players Paris Bowdler and Amy Hunter were recognised in the Cricket Australia’s Team of the Tournament. Grace Lyons (Captain), Stella Wilde (Vice-Captain) and opening batter Alana Horsfall also all had excellent tournaments. With only one player exiting the pathway after this tournament, the signs for the next couple of seasons are overwhelmingly positive for our girls.”

Male U17s – Coach: Jake Floros

 “The U17’s Nationals saw many positive individual and team performances for the ACT, with a variety of players showcasing their skills under pressure situations. The ACT had two wins against Tasmania and the Northern Territory. The team as well had close games against Victoria Country and NSW Country. Given this was the first National carnival for a majority of the team, there is a bright future ahead for Cricket ACT and the boys are well equipped to progress their cricket and compete at tournaments to come.

“The highlight of the tournament was the close win against Tasmania in round three. The fielding on display was exceptional and the fight, determination and unity showed by the team under pressure was great to see. Another highlight was the close loss against a strong Victoria Country side, where the boys put on 229 batting first and took the match to the second last over. These tournaments are about learning and while the team didn’t get the win, they all came out of that match better cricketers.”

Male U19s – Coach: Jono Dean

 “After a good pre-season preparation, which included two ten-week blocks in skill and athletic development, the ACT took away a talented young squad. The squad was mostly made up of bottom age U19s players and this was going to be a fantastic opportunity for the squad to be exposed to a high level of cricket.

“In summary, the squad played six matches, winning one and going down in the other five matches. After a first tough outing against Tasmania, the following games saw the boys starting to play well together and as a team. This showed as the next three games all went down to the last over for a result. Unfortunately, the team went down to QLD and NSW Country, but belief was building over the course of the two losses.

“Against VIC Metro the team won a final over thriller to seal their first win of the tournament, a huge effort from the team against a quality outfit in VIC Metro. Under pressure, Nick Kent was the hero, ripping through the VIC Metro batting to close out the innings with (4-31). Our fielding efforts across this match was our championship best. However, the final two matches unfortunately proved to be too tough, going down against NT and VIC Country to end the tournament.

“Some highlights of the tournament were the leadership of young Kai Brunker who managed his troops through some tough periods of pressure cricket. Our spinners were exceptional throughout the tournament with Kai, Jake Smith and Blake Faunce all playing pivotal roles across the championships. The team took some great learnings around the standard of fielding and batting to bring into next year, to perform at a National level.”

Article prepared by UC Sports Media student Oliver Nguyen

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