Joshing about ends after Bush Blues call

YOU won’t find University bowler Josh Bennett monkeying around in the change rooms at the Australian Country Cricket Championship this summer.

Last season the 22-year-old was swinging on a chin-up bar in the change room when he fell and broke and dislocated the radius bone in his left wrist while playing for the ACT.

The injury, and the consequent surgery, extinguished what had been a promising country debut of six wickets at 25.50 in five games at Geelong.

On Monday the right-arm seamer was one of six new faces named in NSW’s 13-man squad for their title defence in Bundaberg from January 3 to 15. 

Fellow Newcastle players Simon Moore and Pat Darwen (Merewether) and fast bowler Andrew Maher (Hamilton-Wickham) also return to country duty.

‘‘I’ll try to refrain from doing anything silly, but it seems to be my nature to do those things,’’ Bennett said of last summer’s accident.

While Bennett was thankful for the ACT opportunity, making his debut for the Bush Blues will be more special. 

‘‘It just feels better playing for NSW. It’s more of an honour to get picked for NSW.

‘‘There is a fair bit of pressure seeing as though they’ve always gone so good in the past. The current players and six new players in the team have to continue that good run.’’

For the past fortnight Bennett has been travelling back to Newcastle from his home town of Orange, where he is doing university prac for maths and science teaching.

At the rain-marred northern pool of the NSW Country Championships two weeks ago at Belmont, Bennett finished with 1-29 from 16 overs in two matches.

Newcastle did not make the final, giving Bennett limited opportunities to impress selectors.

‘‘It was a surprise as even though I bowled well for Newcastle two weeks ago, I only got one wicket,’’ he said.

‘‘I was just thankful the selectors were actually there to see I was bowling well and just not getting the reward.’’

Bennett’s club form  has also been strong.

He has led the attack with left-armer Luke Bird and taken 12 wickets at 21.42.

The highlight was 5-18 on Saturday to roll Newcastle City for 57 in the first innings and set up a likely outright win. 

‘‘This year I really feel that Birdy and me are equals and we’re leading the attack together,’’ he said.

‘‘This is my fourth season at Uni, so I’m enjoying it as I’m not new – I’m one of the senior members now.’’ 

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