FORMER Dennington cricketer Matt Gunther will make his Victorian Premier Cricket (VPC) top grade debut today.
Gunther, 19, will operate as a change bowler and lower-order batsman for Geelong in its season opener away against Dandenong at Shepley Oval.
The promotion comes after the teenage all-rounder spent two seasons in the Cats’ thirds, having crossed from Dennington ahead of season 2011-12. Gunther, a sport science student at Deakin University in Geelong, said he always wanted to play in the VPC division one competition.
“I’ve always had a dream of playing Premier Cricket when I finished school,” he said.
“The option of Geelong was a bit closer to home and it worked well because of the uni course. I wanted to study there.”
Gunther will be a bowling all-rounder in the Cats’ firsts today, attempting to limit the flow of runs during the middle of the Panthers’ 50-over innings.
He will bat down the order.
Among his rivals is Dandenong skipper Darren Pattinson, a one-time Test player for England.
“It’s been a pretty tough pre-season, we’ve done a fair bit of work,” Gunther said.
“The first year I didn’t really do a pre-season, I was still living in Warrnambool and still at school trying to get year 12 done.
“Last year I had a fair bit of work and missed a few sessions. This year is the first pre-season I’ve been to pretty much every session.” Gunther, a Western Waves coach, said he had worked closely with Geelong bowling coach and former Victorian Bushranger Grant Lindsay.
He said he was battling nerves in the lead-up to today, although he would be satisfied as long as Geelong took the points.
“I’m hoping to make the most of my opportunities with the ball through the middle stages,” he said.
“If the chance comes with the bat, just to rotate the strike and get a score. Hopefully we can have a win.” Gunther is one of a host of players with ties to the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association lining up in VPC matches today.
Former Nirranda paceman Jake Haberfield will make his debut for Footscray-Edgewater against Ringwood.
Nestles batsman Cam Williams will attempt to impress in his first match for Essendon against Carlton.
Williams will come up against West Warrnambool paceman Will Mills, who will also debut for the Blues.
Mills is in contention to represent Victoria at the under 19 national championships in December.