Next generation shows its mettle

By Jared Smith,

You have a bit of time put things in perspective when you're sitting in an old university dorm room neighbouring the spiritual home of New Zealand cricket.

Wanganui batsman Henry Collier is pleased he has met the first part of his 2012-13 season goal by following good mate Nick Blundell into the wider New Zealand Under 18 squad.

After more than a fortnight already at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval at Lincoln University, representing Central Districts U19 for the second part of the national tournament, the pace doesn't ease off for 18-year-old Collier.

He is in the midst of five days training which will lead to two pick-up trial games, starting Sunday.

From that, he will know if he makes the cut for the likely team heading to the 2014 Under 19 World Cup, as 24 teenagers gets whittled down to 15-16.

Right now he is most looking forward to getting out of Lincoln's old dorms and into the more upmarket NZ Cricket High Performance Centre facilities on the campus.

"Being stuck here for two weeks is pretty annoying but moving to some place nicer will be good.

"It's a pretty good opportunity I guess," Collier said.

Having not had the advantage of individual feedback yet, Collier's not sure what made the New Zealand selectors look at him.

However his recent form for CD U19, including a century against Auckland, as well as for Wanganui in the Hawke Cup was worth consideration.

Collier said the environment is competitive the final makeup of the World Cup team will be decided in August. The side will play other internationals and tour before then.

Collier has an ally in pace bowler Blundell as the young men, both off to Massey University, encourage each other to get through along with three more members of their Central District's team in the frame.

"It was a goal [this season], Nick Blundell made it earlier and I aimed to make that team as well," Collier said.

Getting to this level, one can just about see the path to a full-time professional career.

The teenager is not thinking too far ahead but a spot with the senior Central District's team is another logical step.

"Obviously there are aspirations but I'm sticking to one goal at the moment."

Should Blundell and Collier survive the cut they will return home where Wanganui cricket's Dilan Raj will take responsibility for their continued training. Raj said the pair can expect to have what their roles are in the New Zealand team more clearly defined during the weekend.

"[Collier's] had some outstanding moments and also some average moments over the last few days," Raj said. Having been in Canterbury coaching the Central District's Under 17s which included Brett Cameron, Andre Halbert and Charlie Robson Raj had hoped for a sightly better outcome than finishing tied for second with Wellington.

Cameron, for instance, had a great start with 129 against Otago, but struggled after that.

Raj said it was one of the first time's the team had encountered swing bowling in the cold Christchurch climate, something they will have to learn to adjust to.

"It just needs for us to look at it to come together and have a couple of warm-up games before something like this," Raj said.

"But that's almost impossible, with players spread across two islands."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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