Experienced coach Troy Cooley says this year’s National Performance Squad graduates are ready to hit the ground running - and make an impact - when the JLT One-Day Cup begins later this month.
The squad of 18 emerging cricketers, identified as players of interest by state and national talent managers, have spent the past three months in an intensive full-time cricket program at the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
That program wrapped up this week, following trial matches against the National Indigenous Squad, Papua New Guinea and state sides New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.
Cooley is now sure his charges have taken plenty out of the program and have roles to play in the upcoming domestic limited-overs tournament, whether that’s for their respective states, or in the Cricket Australia XI outfit.
"We’re happy that the program has set these guys up for the opportunity to play well this summer,” Cooley said.
"There’s no doubt that match simulation and battle zones are a key component of exposing players to decision-making, which rubs off quite quickly when they go to game format.
"We’re really confident that the process they went through here has had some good effects.
"We saw examples (in the state games). Jake Doran had two really good batting experiences, Josh Inglis again showed that he’s batting well and keeping well, Param Uppal battling it out against his own state, New South Wales, and making a solid contribution and Michael Cormack performed consistently throughout the matches.
"We’ve had some really good individual performances along the way."
While the practice games in particular have been about fine-tuning skills and mindsets for the season ahead, Cooley believes the program overall will have a big impact not just this year but in the years to come.
The NPS program is designed to add to the work players do at state level, and to produce cricketers capable of playing at international level in the next two-to-five years.
It’s seen players involved experience unknown experiences and foreign conditions - including a gruelling army-style boot camp in the Snowy Mountains designed to build adaptability and endurance, and exposure to sub-continent cricket and turning wickets with a tour to the MRF Academy in Chennai.
“Two people that spent a bit of time out of game - Alex Carey and Jackson Coleman, who played football - to be able to condense that and play a lot of cricket to fill that hole where they hadn’t gained that game experience was a great opportunity for those two that they possibly missed,” Cooley said.
“Our skills-based focus and games-based focus I think gave them the opportunity to develop the skills they’re going to need.
“To bring someone like a Daniel Fallins in, to give him plenty of opportunities as a leg-spinner, he’s probably someone else that’s really relished the opportunity to be bowling in games and outdoors for the three months he’s been up here. Ben Pengelley who’s straight out of youth cricket get some really good experiences and do really well in the games, it shows that he’s kicking on and backing up his competitive spirit with good performances.”
The JLT One-Day Cup begins on September 27, with the Cricket Australia XI taking on South Australia at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field.
2017 National Performance Squad: Alex Carey (SA), Jackson Coleman (VIC), Michael Cormack (SA), Brendan Doggett (QLD), Jake Doran (TAS), Daniel Fallins (NSW), Jordan Gauci (NSW), Ryan Gibson (NSW), Ryan Hadley (NSW), Josh Inglis (WA), Marnus Labuschagne (QLD), Lewin Maladay (NSW), Ben McDermott (TAS), Tom O'Donnell (VIC), Ben Pengelley (SA), Henry Thornton (NSW), Param Uppal (NSW), Mac Wright (TAS).