Cricket Australia today announced the 17-player National Performance Squad that will take part in a three-month intensive finishing school at the Bupa National Cricket Centre.
Headed up by High Performance Coaching staff Troy Cooley and Graeme Hick, the squad will be trialled on various attributes with an eye towards progressing onto the upcoming Sheffield Shield and Matador Cup.
Cooley believes the group of youngsters are currently in a period where First Class cricket isn’t far off should they have a successful winter training program.
“There are some of the players who are a little further along in their development – the guys who have played most of the season with their States – but overall they are all at that stage where they are beginning to be noticed,” Cooley said.
Cricket Australia’s revamped National Talent Pathway has seen a number of initiatives put in place for the advancement of rising talent, including the introduction of CA XI’s in National Championships and the Matador Cup, with more success for under-23s than ever before.
“The number of Shield centuries this year by players aged under 23 was the highest it has been since 1993-94 when you had the likes of Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer amongst the runs at a relatively young age.”
“We saw some exciting spin and fast bowling talent emerge, especially from the opportunities to include some players in the various Cricket Australia XI line-ups that played against the international touring teams and in the Matador Cup.
“There are also several players who are bidding to take the next step from Youth and Toyota Futures League competition’s next season and they will no doubt benefit from the skills they acquire and the competition they will encounter while they are here utilising the world class facilities at the Bupa NCC.”
20-year-old Matthew Renshaw, who was an NPS member last year, was equal third in the Sheffield Shield player of the year standings, scored 738 runs at 43.41 with three centuries. Former Australian U-19 batsman Heazlett, 20, produced the third most runs in a debut season for the Bulls with 649 runs at 40.56.
Along with Renshaw and Heazlett, squad inclusions and allrounders Jack Wildermuth (Qld) and Hilton Cartwright (WA) were among 11 players under the age of 23 who scored first class centuries this season.
A number of recent Australian under-19 players have been included on the back of their tri-series in Dubai, most notably Sheffield Shield debutant Arjun Nair alongside Wesley Agar, brother of Australian spinner Ashton and Tom O’Donnell, son of former Test player Simon.
The 2016 NPS program will get underway from 3 May and continue through until 12 August.
Along the way, players will take part in specialist camps, both here and overseas, work with the Australian squad as it prepares for its Test tour of Sri Lanka and participate in a playing phase closer to the 2016-17 pre-season.
Squad: Wes Agar (SA), Hilton Cartwright (WA), Kyle Gardiner (WA), David Grant (SA), Sam Grimwade (VIC), Sam Harper (VIC), Sam Heazlett (QLD), Clint Hinchliffe, (WA), Josh Inglis (WA), Caleb Jewell (TAS), David Moody (WA), Arjun Nair (NSW), Tom O'Donnell (VIC), Matthew Renshaw (QLD), Matthew Short (VIC), Mitchell Swepson (QLD), Jack Wildermuth (QLD)