Melbourne Country Week selectors with heaches as Warrnambool players stake claims

GOOD CHANCE: Strong form has Allansford's Chris Bant, Merrivale's Jeremy Burgess and West Warrnambool's Jack Sunderland in the Melbourne Country Week frame.
GOOD CHANCE: Strong form has Allansford's Chris Bant, Merrivale's Jeremy Burgess and West Warrnambool's Jack Sunderland in the Melbourne Country Week frame.

HEADACHES over Melbourne Country Week places are plaguing Warrnambool selectors as a host of in-form cricketers demand attention.

Warrnambool coach Ray Drew revealed his team of selectors still had an “open mind” despite the squad deadline of early January fast approaching.

Allansford’s Chris Bant – who narrowly missed selection last season – is staking a strong claim through back-to-back centuries at club level.

Drew said the former Panmure skipper was on his radar.

“Two hundreds in a row is a good result for him, but it’s also good for Allansford,” the veteran mentor said.

“It’s going to help him enormously. If he was someone who wasn’t already in the (preliminary) squad, it would have put him right in the mix.”

Drew said West Warrnambool’s overseas prospect, Jack Sunderland, had also impressed while strong batting form had Merrivale’s Jeremy Burgess pressing for selection.

Drew also hinted the association could select a specialist spinner, with Russells Creek bowler Joe Kenna battling Wesley-CBC’s Ben Evans for the spot.

Burgess, who has returned to his best form after a knee operation hindered his influence last season, said he was itching for an opportunity.

“I've just wanted to bounce back from last season, which was a bit disappointing for me,” Burgess told The Standard

“The two years prior to that were probably my best as far as cricket went. If (selection) does happen, I just want to prove a point.

I’ve been more confident in my mental approach and I’m back to opening every week. I’m taking the first ball.

Jeremy Burgess

“I’m nearly 36 and I want to keep playing at that highest level for as long as I can.

“It’s about proving that I can still do it.”

The Merrivale co-captain is averaging 55.33 from 10 innings and is currently 52 not out as the Tigers search for an outright victory over Wesley-CBC on Saturday.

It’s a stark turnaround from last season – in which Burgess averaged just 12 runs an innings.

Burgess revealed confidence was key to his revival as an opening batsman.

“I’ve been more confident in my mental approach and I’m back to opening every week. I’m taking the first ball,” he said.

“You’re accountable and there’s no one to blame but yourself if it goes wrong that way.”

Sunderland, an English all-rounder, said he would jump at the chance to take part in the carnival.

“It’s an exciting concept and it would be great to get the chance to go. There isn’t a representative format in my area of England,” he said.

“It’d be a good chance to play with the best players in our league against other strong areas.”

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