New South Wales looks for `three-peat' at Commonwealth Bank under-17 Cricket Championship
The New South Wales (NSW) under-17 squad will be looking to create its own slice of history when it embarks on its journey to win three consecutive titles at the Commonwealth Bank under-17 Cricket Championship Series which commences in Adelaide today.
Bankstown's Patrick Darwen will lead the NSW squad in the series, which has proven to be a wonderful training ground for Australia's cricket stars of the future.
Sixty-four Australian Test cricketers have competed in the under-17 titles, along with 11 players who have represented Australia in the limited overs format of the game.
New South Wales and Australian batsmen Michael Clarke is one such player who fondly remembers his experience at the under-17 championships.
"I remember the under-17 championships clearly. I really wanted to see how I compared to the guys from other states, and I soon found that it brought out the best in me," said Clarke.
"Playing underage cricket for your state is a fantastic opportunity, and the perfect introduction for first-class and state cricket.
"I hope everyone who plays at this year's Commonwealth Bank under-17 Championship Series makes the most of the opportunity and enjoys playing for their state as much as I did," he said.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland echoed Clarke's sentiments about the prestige of the series.
"The teams at this championship represent the very best young talent in Australia," said Mr Sutherland.
"Being a part of this group gives players a tremendous opportunity to test themselves against quality opposition and further develop the skills required to progress to senior grade cricket and beyond," he said.
And in a first for the under-17 Championships, a `Spirit of Cricket' award will be handed out at the conclusion of the series.
"A Spirit of cricket award will be presented to the team that best personifies the true spirit, traditions and values associated with cricket. It is the first time in the competition's history that such an award has been given," said Mr Sutherland.
Teams will compete in three two-day matches in the lead up to the semi-finals, where the top four teams will play off for a spot in the Final.
Following the series, an Australian under-17 squad will be announced which will spend four days during April at Cricket Australia's new Centre of Excellence at Allan Border Oval in Brisbane.
A Player of the Series will also be announced following the championships. Previous winners of the Player of the Series include: Simon O'Donnell (`78/'79), Ian Healy (`79/'80), Jimmy Maher (`90/'91), and Brad Hodge (`91/'92).