The experience of Josh Hyde and vice-captain Michael Rees could prove invaluable as Macquarie Coast Stingers prepare for their T20 Regional Bash opener in Ballina on December 4.
The Mid North Coast T20 gala had a soggy finish in Port Macquarie on Sunday, but there are still ambitions to complete it before the end of the season.
Focus now turns to the trip to northern NSW in less than a week after selectors named a 14-man squad for the two-day tournament.
Port Macquarie-Hastings players dominate the squad with eight, while Macleay will have five players in the squad.
Vice-captain Michael Rees is the only Manning representative.
Should they win all three of their fixtures against Northern Rivers, Northern Inland and Coffs Coast, the Stingers will earn the right to play on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground.
No Stingers side has previously done it, but selector Aaron Hagenbach is quietly confident of a marked improvement from the squad which has a youthful flavour.
That focus on youth was a deliberate ploy from the selectors as it was important to save as many runs in the field as possible.
"While we weren't aiming for the young guys, you see the difference in terms of their energy when you've got a whole group of younger players running about the field," Hagenbach said.
While we weren't aiming for the young guys, you see the difference in terms of their energy when you've got a whole group of younger players running about the field.Aaron Hagenbach
"It might save you 10 runs and be the difference between winning and losing a game. It was also really about having as many options as we could with both bat and ball. Almost every player can bowl an over or two if required."
The investment in youth aided the selection of talented teenage duo Bryce Cook and Cooper Petterson who are graduates of the Bradman Cup-winning North Coast side.
"More often than not the team that does well in the Bradman Cup and the Colts' competition does very well at the Regional Bash three or four years later," Hagenbach said.
"If we can build a strong, youthful side over the next couple of years they'll then feel comfortable at this level. You want guys that the opposition don't want to play against."
Hagenbach said the decision to hand the experienced Hyde the captaincy duties was due to his ability to keep a cool head in pressure situations.
"You saw what happened with the Rays (in the T20 gala semi-final) where he talked the young guys through that run chase. Just having his presence around some of the younger guys helped," he said.
You saw what happened with the Rays (in the T20 gala semi-final) where Josh talked the young guys through that run chase. Just having his presence around some of the younger guys helped.Macquarie Coast Stingers chairman of selectors Aaron Hagenbach
"Along with Michael Rees they have been two of the lead players in the Premier League over the last four or five years. To have their experience around this next generation will benefit all of them as a result."
The full 14-man squad is: Josh Hyde (captain), Michael Rees (vice-captain), Daniel Adelt, Darren Bourke, Ryan Bray, Bryce Cook, Lachie Dowling, Kahlan Duncan, Ethan Hyde, Zac Jones, Mitch Korn, Jackson Korn, Cooper Petterson, Jarrod Prosper.
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