Sport

Benalla junior cricketers to take next step in Youth Premier League

By Meg Saultry

Four Benalla junior cricket players have been selected as part of a North East Knights Youth Premier League squad announced last week.

Benalla’s under-16 captain and vice-captain, Jack Fullager and Jasper DeFazio, have both made the under-16 squad following trials, while their younger counterparts in under-14 captain Lucas Hales, along with vice-captain George Lithgow, were selected in the under-14 team.

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Benalla Bushrangers president Mark Saunders said the club was incredibly proud of the four boys’ efforts.

“We think it’s fantastic,” Saunders said.

“We have a strong emphasis on our juniors at the club.

“The boys are doing really well in their cricket and their development.

“Their hard work has paid off.”

And with several North East Knights’ matches set to be played in Benalla, Saunders said it was a real coup for the club and the community.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to come and see some of our highly skilled juniors right on their doorsteps,” he said.

Both the under-14 and under-16 teams will play several matches across the next three months, with includes a mix of T20, 40-over and 50-over matches.

The opening matches will be played in Benalla, with the first on Sunday, November 17 against Inner East Emus, ahead of the Knights' matches against Outer East Eagles on Sunday, November 24.

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The teams will then compete in Melbourne over four days in mid-January, with finals set to be played on Monday, January 20.

The best players from the league will then be selected to compete in a Youth Super Series, played in late January.

North East Knights specialist network coach Stephen Brodie said the Youth Premier League was “reflective of the way the cricket landscape is ever involving”.

“We need players who can bowl well, who can hit the ball (and) you’ve got to be able to field,” Brodie said.

“You’ve got to be good at the three facets of the game.

“The Youth Premier League will teach players these skills.”

The league will also promote the mantra ‘play brave’ this season, which encourages players to believe in their abilities and take their opportunities.

“I have seen firsthand where this renewed focus will produce sensational cricket and players who are ready for the next level, state academy sides, premier cricket and hopefully state senior cricket,” Brodie said.