Run-scoring machine Bailey Abela has been rewarded for his dominant summer with the bat with selection in the male U19 NSW Country squad for the U19 National Championships.
Fellow Illawarra young guns Angus Campbell and Ryan Cattle have also made the NSW Country squad which will contest the national championships in Albury from November 30 to December 7.
Abela was a shoe-in for selection given his great form for representative sides, club team Wests Illawarra and Campbelltown in the U21 Poidevin-Gray Shield competition.
The opener hammered a century for Illawarra during their successful Creighton Cup campaign last month.
Abela then hit an unbeaten 84 on Thursday against Newcastle to guide Greater Illawarra Zone to the Country Bash final, to be played at Sydney Showground on January 17 before the Sydney Thunder v Melbourne Renegades BBL match.
The next day he continued his good form as Greater Illawarra downed North Coastal in their Country Championship one-day fixture in Tamworth.
Abela (97) and Ethan DeBono shared in a 245-run stand as Greater Illawarra comfortably chased down North Coastal's 6-260, reaching 2-261 in the 36th over.
Only North Coastal's Justin Moore and Caleb Ziebell, who added 265 runs for the first wicket against Central Northern in Inverell in 2018/19, have enjoyed a bigger partnership in the history of the Country Championships.
NSW Country U19 coach Dean Burke said Abela had been excellent.
"He's had a really good season so far. He got 84 not out for the Illawarra men's team, which is a good innings against a really strong Newcastle team," he said.
"Him still being under 19 eligible, that's a really good effort. He also made a century for Campbelltown in the Poidevin-Gray under 21 competition this year, which is also a very strong competition, so it's really good to see him in good form and he has earned his place in the team definitely."
"Angus is a really talented all-rounder. He's a middle-order batsman and a right-arm fast bowler currently playing first grade cricket at Bankstown Cricket Club in Sydney.
"He played a lot in Colts last year and had a good carnival so I'm looking forward to him replicating those performances again this year," he said.
"Ryan Cattle is also an exciting young right-arm leg-spinner. He is a really good leggie who has a lot of talent and can spin the ball both ways.
"He's very consistent and performed really well in the trials we've just had against New South Wales Metro last week. Hopefully he can continue his good form in Albury."
Burke said NSW Country would look to improve on last year's showing where the team missed out on the semi-finals.
"We had a bit of a mixed carnival. We played some really good cricket but fell short of the semi finals.
"This year we're sort of looking to improve on those performances and go a little bit further in the carnival.
"We're hoping to at least make the finals this year, and see where we can go from there.
"I think we've got a really good balance of players in our squad that fill really important roles in regards to skill sets. I'm really happy with the squad we've picked."
NSW Country open their campaign on November 30 with a clash against Queensland before playing Northern Territory on December 1, Australian Capital Territory on December 3 and Western Australia on December 4.
"I think Queensland will definitely be a tough game first up for us. They were the under 17s champions last year and also made the final in the under 19s. So they'll be a very strong team," Burke said.
"Our New South Wales Metro team are defending champions and they've got 10 of their 13 players backing up from last year, so they'll be a very strong team and very hard to beat.
"They're probably the two that will be there at the back end of the tournament. Hopefully we can join them."
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