LEADING EDGE: Newcastle selectors forced to gamble for NSW Country Championships

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4 Dec 2018

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BETWEEN them, Merewether leg-spinner Courtney Moulton and Stockton-Raymond Terrace seamer Bryan Warren have taken just 11 wickets in Newcastle district cricket.

But Newcastle representative selectors believe their potential is worth the gamble in their defence of their NSW Country Championships.

Established fast bowlers Sam Gilmour, Luke Bird, Mark Cameron and Sam Webber are unavailable for the November 28 to 30 trip to Ballina, as are senior batsmen Mark Dries and Pat Darwen.

Newcastle’s stocks have been depleted further by the loss of Bayley McGill, Jayden Park and Ben Balcomb due to NSW Country under-19 commitments.

Newcastle’s failed Sydney grade cricket T20 campaign was marred by the lack of a second strike bowler to support Cameron.

Warren, who joined Stockton this season from Great Lakes, represented North Coastal at last year’s country championships.

The 19-year-old will share the new ball with Belmont’s Ray Cooper, who was Newcastle’s top wicket-taker last campaign with nine at 13.78.

Warren toured New Zealand with the under-21 Emus side and won the Adam Gilchrist Cricket Development Scholarship this year, but the right-armer has taken just three first-grade wickets for Stockton.

‘‘[Coach] Mark Cameron has seen a bit of him and thinks he has potential,’’ Newcastle chairman of selectors Phil Stanbridge said.

‘‘I suppose we’ve viewed this carnival now as a chance to give an opportunity to a few younger guys who are showing a bit of potential.’’

The absence of Park has also provided Moulton with a surprise opportunity. Moulton had played just six first-grade games as a replacement bowler before this season.

This summer he has played four matches for the NDCA heavyweights and returned the respectable figures of six wickets at 19.83.

Stanbridge said Newcastle captain Mark Littlewood had requested a second tweaker to partner off-spinner Nick Foster.

‘‘Courtney Moulton has only started in first grade with Merewether this year, but we see a bit of potential in him, and it’s an opportunity to test himself against these other sides at a senior level,’’ he said.

Newcastle squad: Mark Littlewood (captain), Ray Cooper, Marcus Hainsworth (Belmont), Simon Moore, Josh Geary, Courtney Moulton (Merewether), Greg Hunt, Joe Price (Toronto), Jeff Goninan, Nick Foster, Bryan Warren (Stockton), Jacob Montgomery (Wallsend)

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