The ACT/NSW Country Comets are preparing to take on Victoria in what is the first confirmed round of the 2021/22 Toyota Second XI season. The four-day match will begin on Monday November 29 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The 13-person squad has been announced with some exciting new roles being filled. Blake Macdonald is captaining the four-day side for the first time since his start with the ACT/NSW Country Comets in 2015, having captained the T20 team three years ago.

Comets Coach Kyle Piper said, “Blake’s start to the season has been really strong. He has peeled off 293 runs at an average of 146.50 for St George Cricket Club who have won four from four. He has shown exceptional growth and has a good understanding of who he is as a player and a person and knows what he needs to do to be successful.”

Also named in the squad is Canberra’s Joe Slater, who is returning to the Comets after a four-year absence from the team and a two-year absence from cricket as a whole.

Piper commented, “I would really like to thank Weston Creek Molonglo Club for reigniting and cultivating Joe’s love of the game. They have been so supportive of Joe throughout his journey and his selection is as much a recognition of their work as it is anyone else’s,”

“The team loves having him around and he is a far better player now than when he played his previous three Second XI games back in 2016/17. The next chapter promises to be an exciting one for Joe.”

Last year’s ACT/NSW Country Comets Under 19s captain, Toby Gray, will also be making his four-day debut for the side.

When asked about additional matches for the Comets this season, Piper responded “COVID-19 has certainly taught us all to be appreciative of what we have and to remain flexible. At this stage we only have this game locked in but there is the potential for three more matches post-Christmas,”

“We have still had plenty to get excited about as a squad with the performances of former Comets Henry Hunt (Australia A) and Nathan McAndrew (South Australia) to go with the emergence of current Comet Hayden Kerr who has had an excellent start to his first-class career this week with the NSW Blues.

“This has continued a pleasing trend from our players over the last few years in that our players are demonstrating they are more than capable of being leading players in their respective set ups. This has been really gratifying and is a great reward for the entire pathway who work so hard to achieve this outcome.”

To stay up to date with the match, visit mycricket.com.au for live score updates or follow Cricket ACT social media channels.

ACT/NSW Country Comets Round One Squad

Nick Larkin

Ryan Hackney

Blake Nikitaras

Blake Macdonald (C)

Nick Cutler

Justin Avendano

Beau McClintock (WK)

Riley Ayre

Ross Pawson

Greg West

Sam Skelly

Joe Slater

Toby Gray