Illawarra captain Adam Berwick is confident the team will finally put their representative demons to rest at this weekend's Country Championships.
The Balgownie batsman will lead a talented side at the championships as they look to make amends for a spate of poor performances at recent representative tournaments. The team was bundled out of last year’s Country Championships without a win after comprehensive defeats to Western Division and ACT Southern.
Last year’s failure flowed through to this season, with Illawarra dumped out of the Regional Bash before suffering a 10 wicket loss to UNSW in the opening round of the Kingsgrove Cup.
However, Berwick, who was not involved in the Twenty20 matches, is confident those results will have no bearing on this weekend.
“I think they’re two contrasting competitions.” Berwick said. “You can’t judge the performance in Twenty20s or make comparisons in terms of how we’ll go in the 50 over format.
“We can disregard the Twenty20 form. We’ve had the inclusion of a few new players who weren’t in the Twenty20 side.
“The team’s got good balance in terms of bowling and a lot of experience in the batting order, with myself and Graeme Batty. We’ve got a very competitive team, so if we can get off to a good start in the first game there’s no reason why we can’t win all three games.”
The side will play three games across Friday, Saturday and Sunday against Central Coast, ACT Southern and Riverina, with the winner of the four-team round robin to face Newcastle at Bradman Oval in Bowral on November 26.
The Illawarra cause has been bolstered by the return of former Australian Country representative Graeme Batty after a four-year stint in Sydney. Berwick believes Batty’s experience will benefit the side, both on and off the field.
“He’s a class player and just his name brings an element of excitement. His presence around the change room and on the field and the experience he brings will have a big impact on the side.
“The younger players look up to him quite a bit, and a lot of the senior players do as well. He’s pretty much done it all in Illawarra and country cricket.
Opening the batting he’s pretty difficult to get rid of, so if he gets off to a good start, it will go a long way to the team doing well.”
While Berwick says there is no rivalry between Illawarra and ACT Southern, he concedes his side will be looking to make amends for last year’s drubbing in Saturday’s match. Kieran Gray, who scored 129 not out last year is unavailable while Duncan Maddinson, 78 not out, will play for Illawarra after moving to Wollongong cricket club this season.
Oak Flats all rounder Brynley Richards is the sole South Coast district representative in the ACT Southern side.
“South Coast gave us a bit of a hiding last year, but they are missing a few big names this year so if we can expose their top order we should be able to get the win.” Berwick said.