THREE of Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemens’ top stars will play key roles for the Greater Illawarra Zone side, during their NSW Country Championships assault this weekend.
Batsmen Daniel Gleeson and Blake Munilla, as well as fast bowler Nate Jones are all part Grant Tilling’s 13-player squad, which will battle it out against three other Southern Pool opponents, for the chance to take on Central Coast in the final at Bradman Oval on November 25.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the first Greater Illawarra team, after the recent rezoning, combining Shoalhaven with Illawarra, South Coast and the Highlands,” Gleeson said.
“I haven’t really put my hand up to play representative cricket in the past but this year I decided to throw my hat in the ring, as the Shoalhaven cricket burden is lighter, with only six teams in the first grade.
“It’s also a special opportunity for the Shoalhaven to host a number of the top cricketers in the state.”
Greater Illawarra, who will be out to win their first Country Championships since Illawarra did it in 2012, will start their campaign with a battle against ACT Southern Districts at Hayden Drexel Oval on Friday.
“Going into the tournament, as this is the first time we are playing as a combined Greater Illawarra side, I’m expecting us to be very competitive,” Gleeson said.
“We have a good mix of youth and experience, with plenty of quality players, from all four regions in the side.
“I know all the boys are keen to put in a good performance on the first day against ACT Southern Districts and try and build some momentum into the next two days.”
Following Friday’s match, Gleeson’s Greater Illawarra side will take on reigning champions Newcastle on Saturday and Riverina on Sunday – both played at Hayden Drexel Oval.
The Berry Sports Complex will also host a match each day.
“It would be amazing if we could string a couple of wins together and take out the Country Championship,” he said.
“But all the boys aren’t looking that far ahead and are taking it just one game at a time.”
All matches will be 50-over encounters, starting at 10am each day.
Joining the Ex-Servos trio in the Greater Illawarra Zone squad are Brynley Richards ©, Graeme Batty (vc), Manning Berry, Jamie Fleming, Mitch McCrae, Tom McDevitt, Xavier McDevitt, Rhys Voysey, Mitch Watterson and Pushpinder Singh.