A HOST of emerging Warrnambool and District cricketers will put their Melbourne Country Week (MCW) credentials on display when they contest the annual Cross-Border Cup.
Chairman of selectors Ray Drew said as many as six fringe squad members would want strong performances against Mount Gambier to enhance their MCW prospects.
The WDCA will send a 13-player squad to Penola for the clash on Sunday, which is four weeks out from Melbourne Country Week.
The squad is one of youngest to contest the Cross-Border Cup in years, a deliberate move which will enable selectors to finalise their MCW list.
Among the young faces are Wesley-CBC’s Tom Bowman, Woodford trio Jake McKinnon, Hank Schlaghecke and Nick Butters and Brierly-Christ Church bolter Mark Murphy.
Selectors will also have eyes on Merrivale batsman Josh Stapleton and Allansford all-rounder Matt Brophy. Brett Eldridge, Cam Williams (Nestles), Nathan Murphy (Brierly-Christ Church), Aaron Williams (Port Fairy), Ben Dobson (West Warrnambool) and Damon Delaney (Nirranda) make up the rest of the players bound for Penola.
Drew said the Cross-Border Cup presented young players with a chance to show how they would cope in high-pressure matches.
“They will be playing at a high standard,” he said.
“It’s a good opportunity to play a side like that to show them what’s required.”
Mount Gambier defeated Warrnambool by four wickets at Port Fairy in the last Cross-Border Cup and Drew said the players were keen for redemption.
“We’re going over there to win, but at the same time to give these young fellas experience in a good game of cricket,” he said.
“People are coming out of the woodwork to go to Country Week.
“The interest shown is unbelievable.
“People want to do well and play these games to remain in the big picture.”
Warrnambool will contest division two at Melbourne Country Week, which is from February 18 to 22.
Such has been the determination to claim the title — and earn promotion to the provincial grade — players completed beep tests at a training session on Monday night.
WDCA selectors will finalise their MCW squad, which is being drawn from up to 40 players, on Monday.