Future stars ready to shine

By Staff Reporter

Wanganui cricket administrator Dilan Raj is confident he has five prospects who could be good enough to play youth cricket for New Zealand on the world stage.

The five will all be in Central Districts colours this weekend for the national tournaments in Christchurch with the knowledge a good performance could be rewarded with a ticket to the 2014 Under 19 World Cup.

Henry Collier and Nick Blundell are part of the current Central Districts U19 squad who will play on Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln University.

Meanwhile Brett Cameron, Andre Halbert and Charlie Robson are a big part of the CD Under 17s campaign.

Raj wears two hats as coach of the CD U17 team, while also being responsible for preparing the eventually selected CD-based Under 19 players for the youth world cup.

"Despite the turmoil that New Zealand Cricket is in and for whatever reason that that has occurred, the NZ U19s is a huge stepping stone for these lads," Raj said.

"Last year's U19 captain, Will Young, secured a professional contract immediately after the world cup.

"A couple more have played First Class cricket and are well on their way to securing contracts in the professional environment.

"That in itself is a stabilising factor and provides direction for the lads after well structured coaching and playing programmes at Wanganui Collegiate and Wanganui Cricket."

Raj said it was still a long process between now and 2014 plenty of time to maintain programmes, make mistakes, analyse and learn.

Pace bowler Blundell has already been named in the provisional 2014 World Cup squad and has been targeted to lead the bowling group.

As many of the current U19s will be too old for consideration in 2014, the 18-year-old Collier and the current U17s will also be rating their chances.

Collier has scored half centuries and a 41 from his last three innings for CD against Wellington U19 and for Wanganui against Taranaki in Hawke Cup respectively.

As was obvious on the weekend against Taranaki, when his top order partners fell all around him, Collier must look to convert 50's to hundreds to press his claims.

His spin bowling is a bonus, adding another string to the bow to possibly press as an allrounder.

Raj also looks at Cameron's prospects as very encouraging.

Three years ago, current local professional Ben Smith was left out of the U19 World Cup plans due to a perceived slow strike rate.

However, that team was exposed for not having a batsman for the big hitters to work around someone to anchor the innings.

The most recent world cup saw a return to the more orthodox methods and Raj feels similar tactics will be employed in 2014.

This favours Cameron, the Cullinane schoolboy, whose batting resembles a young Smith, Raj said.

"It's still early days for Brett, but he is getting stronger and works hard on his technique.

"If he rotates the strike well, in my opinion, he will come into selection contention as the stabilising force in that U19 World Cup batting unit.

"Now it's about making good decisions."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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