Western Zone Premier League: How the 2017-18 edition of the best inter-town competition in country NSW will unfold

It’s back, finally!

After a summer floating around in the cricket wilderness – you can probably find the likes of Mitch Marsh in that abyss, too – the Western Zone Premier League returns this weekend.

Orange, Bathurst, Cowra, Dubbo and Parkes have all named gangbuster sides ahead of this weekend’s opening round, double-header fixtures.

Check out your definitive guide to all things WZPL here:

THE PREVIEWS:

ORANGE: We plan on enjoying the challenge both Cowra and Dubbo will bring to the table

BATHURST: Defending champs determined to continue reign on top of the zone’s standings: Qureshi

COWRA: NSW Country skipper urges Cowra line-up to hit the ground running

PARKES: No Yelland, no Dunfield, no worries for Parkes ahead of Lachlan derby 

THE GAME BREAKERS:

Every year, in just about every sport, players emerge from the clouds to steal the thunder of those with more credentials.

Cricket is certainly no different.

And this year’s Western Zone Premier League will be testament to that.

The five sides in the 2017-18 competition are loaded with talent, pedigree that’s helped the zone win three of the last four country championship titles.

So who, for Dubbo, Orange, Parkes, Cowra and Bathurst, will rise to the occasion this summer?

We’ve got you covered: here’s a definitive list of the five players that hold the key to their respective sides fortunes. 

RYAN PEACOCK (BATHURST)

  • Middle-order bat, off-break bowler.

Ask Bathurst skipper Jameel Qureshi the one player he’s keen to see perform for the defending champions this summer, and it’s the prodigiously talented Peacock.

“He just knows how to win”, Qureshi says, and has captained NSWCHS.

When the game needs to be broken, expect Qureshi to turn to his young all-rounder.

SCOTT KNIGHTS (PARKES)

  • Top-order batsman.

For ages, you could bank on either Heraghty, Pat Rosser, Peter Yelland or Phil Dunford carrying Parkes to victory.

None of that awesome foursome is on deck this weekend, meaning the likes of Knights will need to fire. 

BROCK LARANCE (DUBBO)

  • Opening batsman.

Take your pick, really. The Dubbo outfit is stacked with class players. Moran, Bower, Patterson, Jeffrey … the list is basically a potential Western Zone side.

But it’s been a long time since there’s been a buzz around a young bat like there currently is around Larance.

JOCK CARTWRIGHT (ORANGE)

  • Top-order batsman.

A relative unknown on the rep scene in Western Zone, Cartwright is, however, no stranger to higher level cricket.

The Orange City Warrior has country championship experience with Southern Zone, and will be required to bring all of that nous to the fore in Orange’s top order.

Jacob McNaught

Jacob McNaught

JACOB McNAUGHT (COWRA)

  • Opening bowler.

What’s not to love about a lightning quick, left-arm fast bowler with red hair?

While the bulk of the runs will come off the blades of top order guns Nick Berry, Mick Curtale and talismanic Pete Guthrie, taking wickets will fall on the shoulders of the Lachlan Valley’s towering inferno. 

If McNaught fires with the new rock, Cowra could storm to the title.

SQUADS:

ORANGE: Kennewell (c), M Winslade, Doherty. Dunlop. Reimer, Greer, Cumming, Kennedy, Morrish, Cartwright, Hannelly, Rose, Turner, Grenfell.

BATHURST: J Qureshi (c), Toole Broes, Shoemark, Peacock, Sellers, I Qureshi, Mitchell, Casey, Seymour, Stephen, Parsons.

DUBBO: Bower (c), Atlee, Edmunds, Williams, McDean, Larance, Peacock, Patterson, Moran, Lindsay, Skinner, Semmler, Jeffrey, Nelson.

PARKES: Knights, Bayliss, M Smith, Harvey, Riach, B Smith, Clarke, Ruzgas, Moore, Halls, Heraghty, Yelland, Cambourn, Tucker, Branscombe, Porter.

COWRA: N Berry (c), T Berry, Carmody, Curtale, Guthrie, Long, McNaught, Moodie, Thorn, Thuaux, Traves, Wilson.

PAST WINNERS: 

2016-17: Not contested

2015-16: Bathurst

2014-15:Dubbo

2013-14:Dubbo

2012-13: Parkes

2011-12:Dubbo