Country captain Batty prepares for big test

In the best batting form of his life, newly appointed NSW Country captain Graeme Batty reckons he is up for the challenge of facing the thunderbolts of Dirk Nannes next week.

Batty was yesterday appointed the state captain for the Australian Country Championships to be played in Queensland in January.

But there's more pressing matters for the Keira captain, who is averaging 128 in the Illawarra competition after posting his third century of the season against Helensburgh on Saturday.

On Wednesday-week, Batty will play in a Wollongong invitational XI against Big Bash outfit the Sydney Thunder - featuring Nannes, the left-arm Victorian capable of sending down 150-kilometre-an-hour deliveries - at North Dalton Park.

"It's a privilege to be playing with some of these blokes - I'm not sure if I will even get a bat, but if I do that will be great," he said.

"I'm just looking forward to being able to mingle with some international cricketers and enjoy the night.

"I know what Dalton Park is like though, under lights it will be a bit dewy and humid and it will be pinging off the deck, so a guy like Nannes will be a handful."

Already this season, Batty has scored 130 against University, 123 not out against Northern Districts, 89 against Corrimal, 67 in the clash with Balgownie and 103 at the crease facing Helensburgh.

While he counts next week's fixture as the biggest match of his life, Batty has previously played for Australian Country against an invitational team in a Twenty20 match in 2010, which included Jason Gillespie, Darren Lehman and Jimmy Maher.

"Facing Gillespie was probably the scariest two overs I'd faced," he said.

"He was still pretty quick and I think about 80 per cent of the balls were at my head.

"I might have to get the bowling machine out this week and crank it up to 150 (kilometres per hour) to be ready for next week."

While still to be finalised, the Wollongong invitational XI is expected to feature former Test opener Phil Jaques and NSW squad members David Dawson and Adam Zampa, and Queenslander Jason Floros.

The Sydney Thunder team is set to have the international quality of New Zealand international Martin Guptill and former Australian Test batsman Usman Khawaja, as well as domestic players Mark Cosgrove, Chris Rogers, Sean Abbott, Scott Coyle and Luke Doran.

Batty, who will be joined by Keira teammate Tim Laws in the NSW Country team, said he was intent on making the most of his opportunities after the ultra-impressive start to the Illawarra season.

"We'll get a training session in before the match (next Wednesday), so it will help to get into the right mindset," he said.

"There's no point in getting too nervous about it, I just want to enjoy it as much as I can."

 Graeme Batty is in the form of his life. Picture: DAVE TEASE

Graeme Batty is in the form of his life. Picture: DAVE TEASE


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