Blues batsman Daniel Hughes has backed Newcastle cricketer Jason Sangha to make his NSW debut this summer if the opportunity arises.
Hughes, in the Hunter this week as part of the state squad’s annual country tour, reckons the 18-year-old has the potential to feature for NSW throughout 2018-2019 but also hopes there isn’t too much pressure put on the rising star.
Sangha was promoted to the Blues’ full-time squad in May, two years after scoring a rookie contract aged 16, and NSW are now without several seasoned willow wielders featuring suspended Test pair Steve Smith and David Warner, retired veteran Ed Cowan as well as the omitted Nic Maddinson.
“Definitely, there’s a huge opportunity there for someone in the middle order or the top of the order,” Hughes told the Newcastle Herald on Monday.
“He [Sangha] has got huge potential. I just hope there’s not too much pressure on him or he doesn’t put too much pressure on himself because I definitely think he’s got something special there.”
Six weeks out from the start of the domestic one-day season opener, Hughes is visiting the region along with Blues and Sydney Sixers teammate Ben Dwarshuis, who said Sangha’s bowling would also hold the right-handed batsman in good stead.
The former Wallsend and Southern Lakes player frequented the sport’s national headquarters in Brisbane recently to work on his leg-spinners.
“He [Sangha] adds a little bit with his bowling as well, he’s been working pretty hard on his leggies,” Dwarshuis said.
“It’s always handy to have an extra string to your bow when you get to selections. I’m sure we’ll see him at some stage this year.”
Sangha was the Australian under-19 captain and played alongside now NSW rookie Jack Edwards in the World Cup final in February.
The duo have been rooming together in India, arriving back in the country on the weekend after touring the subcontinent for 10 days with the National Performance Squad.
“I’ve known him [Sangha] ever since we were about 10 years old and I was just rooming with him in Chennai,” Edwards said.
“Speaking to him he wants to put a lot less pressure on himself this season and just enjoy it. Think a lot less about cricket and just perform. He’s scored a hundred against England so he’s got the talent.”
NSW women’s left-arm bowler Lauren Cheatle, who is returning from shoulder surgery, rounds out the Blues and Sixers touring party in Newcastle this week.
The 19-year-old from Bowral feels the Hunter could accommodate high-level matches of women’s cricket.
“We haven’t played much women’s cricket here, but I know we really want to bring it up here,” she said. “We haven’t had the opportunity just yet, but hopefully with some more games now we can.”
Over the course of three days the Blues quartet were set to frequent Hunter Sports High School, Nelson Bay and Toronto.
During the same period, up to Wednesday, NSW captain and former Test wicketkeeper Peter Nevill was due to visit Lorn, Lochinvar, Gillieston Heights, Singleton, Branxton and Black Hill along with Blues and Sixers teammate Dan Fallins.
Meanwhile, the NSW Country Cricket annual general meeting and presentation will be held at Wests Leagues Club in New Lambton on Saturday.