SOUTH West Cricket (SWC) faces a major challenge to claim top honours at the Western Waves Festival of Cricket this weekend.
SWC selectors yesterday revealed two understrength squads for the three-day Twenty20 tournament at Hamilton.
Mortlake all-rounder Todd Lamont will captain the division one contenders, while Boorcan batsman Matt Boyle is at the helm of the division two hopefuls. Both squads are seeking to go one better than in 2012, when they lost to Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) in the grand finals.
Selector Keith Baker said the squads were without some of the biggest names in the association, a consequence of prevalent unavailability.
The omissions have allowed Gus Bourke, Matt Bignell, Coby Dudman, Chris Vogels, Paul Vogels and Jake Reed to make their top-division debuts. Lamont, Travis Brown, Chris Dendle, Liam Geary, Ben Grinter and Steve Castle will also play in the top grade, while Tyler Schafer is yet to confirm his spot.
The division two squad includes brothers Matt, Daniel and Lachlan Boyle.
Tom Moloney, Jack Osborne, Brett Hunger, Jackson Rock, Kaplan McCann, Brayden Crow, Nathan Monk, Jono Benallack and Brad Hallyburton are also included.
“We’re pretty confident with the teams we’ve got going. There’s a lot of young fellas and they’re all keen,” Baker said. “With the success we’ve had in division two over the last few years, we’ve done pretty well there, we’ve promoted a couple of those fellas up to division one.
“(The squads) aren’t full-strength, but the fellas that are going are keen to go.
“The older fellas tend to leave it to the younger fellas in Twenty20.”
Top SWC cricketers not making the trip include Shane Slater, Jeff Rosolin, Simon Harkness and Tim Place, the top four run-makers this season.
All-rounders Grant Cameron, Tim Keane, Clinton Baker and Nick Harding are also missing, along with Woorndoo brothers Reece and Nigel Otto.
But Baker remained confident the depth in the association would hold its representative sides in good stead.
“We’re quietly confident with what we’ve got. The Warrnambool boys are the ones that seem to do well up there as well.”
SWC, WDCA, Hamilton and District Cricket Association and Horsham will contest division one at the festival.
All but Horsham will play in division two along with West Wimmera, Wimmera-Mallee and Casterton and District.