By Paul Pickering
BERWICK’S James Wilcock now has a big fan in Bushrangers quick Rob Cassell.
Cassell had his first look at the 17-year-old paceman via his role as coach of the Victorian team at this month’s National Under-17 Championships and was mightily impressed.
Wilcock, who plays first XI Premier Cricket for Dandenong, starred with the new ball throughout the round-robin tournament, claiming 11 wickets at an average of 22 as the Vics finished second behind Western Australia.
The promising right-armer joined Drouin’s Jordan Wyatt in the Victorian team, which won four of its seven games to repeat the runner-up performance of the 2009 group.
Cassell, who was recalled to the Victorian senior side this summer after a seven-year absence, said he was thrilled with the way that Wilcock spearheaded the bowling attack in Adelaide.
“He was our leading fast bowler. He swung the new ball and took early wickets for us, so he was a valuable contributor,” he explained.
“He’s played a high level of cricket with Dandenong and been really good for them, so even before a ball was bowled in Adelaide we knew what we were going to get from James.”
Wilcock took nine wickets in a purple patch during the middle of the tournament, with three eye-catching outings against Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia in the space of four days.
His stand-out performance came in the one-day loss to Queensland on 4 January, when he took 4/44 and smashed an entertaining 45 from as many balls, proving himself as a more-than-handy tail-ender.
Returning home last Friday, he said he was a bit “tired and sore” towards the end of the championships, but was pleased with his form.
“My first four or five games were good,” Wilcock reflected.
“I let myself down a little bit in the last two games, but it was really good that the team was winning and to finish second was a great effort.
“(Against Queensland) I got a bit of a license to go out there and have a hit when I was batting and a few came off,” he laughed.
Wilcock, who is setting his sights on securing a spot in the Victorian under-19 next summer, said he will now concentrate on developing a few more tricks to use once the shine is off the new ball in a bid to be more effective later in the innings.
But Cassell has little doubt that Wilcock has a lot of representative cricket ahead of him.
“He’s got plenty of potential and he swings the ball at good pace, and if you can do that you get noticed,” he said.
Cassell is also a big rap for his Melbourne Cricket Club team-mate Wyatt, having bowled to him in the nets and now coached him at state level.
“Jordan’s a super talent,” he said of the aggressive middle-order batsman. He’s a free-flowing batter and he’s got all the shots in the book already.”
Wyatt played six games for the Vics in Adelaide, struggling early before finishing the tournament with scores of 57, 49 and 28.
By Paul Pickering