Gisborne an incubator of cricket talent

Tom Rogers is one of two Gisborne players selected in the National Rookie Squad


Gisborne Cricket Club is gaining a reputation for producing some of the nation’s most promising young players.

Just 12 months ago, former Dragons’ cricketer Pat McKenna captained an Australian under-19 team tour of Sri Lanka. He has since been drafted to the AFL.

Now Tom Rogers and Matt Underwood have been named in the inaugural Australian Cricket Pathway rookie squad.

The pair, along with 50 other young cricketers, were selected by state and territory talent scouts for the squad, which is overseen by Cricket Australia’s national talent manager and former Test skipper Greg Chappell.

The teens have been graded into three levels: bronze, silver and gold.

Last season, Rogers played for the Dragons and Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association club Melton, while Underwood played for Premier cricket side Footscray Edgewater.

Both are left-handed batsmen, and both have been named in the bronze category.

Dragons’ president Andrew Headberry said it was amazing to see past and present players doing well at a national level.

Other success stories include now- Riddell player Jack Baker, who bowled Victoria to victory at the national under-17 championships in 2012.

“It’s really amazing for the size of the town of Gisborne to have elite sports people like this,” Headberry said. “It’s just fantastic and gives everyone a lift to get players through to squads like this.

“A lot of people know these two guys. I look after Milo Into Cricket, and the parents are keen to hear about what the older cricketers are doing.

“To say 10 years ago, Pat McKenna was doing this thing and has gone on to captain the under-19 Australia team, is something they can aspire to.”

State rep Boys
Matt Underwood’s cricket career continues to flourish

He said both Rogers and Underwood had shown talent from a young age.

“The thing that stands out the most is the time and effort put in by the boys and their parents and people around them to get them to games and training.

“Both boys are the first to acknowledge how lucky they are,” Headberry said.

He said the club had made a massive focus of its junior program.

“The last three to four years we’ve had a real focus on juniors.

“It’s part of our vision to have a strong club that includes a lot of junior participation.”

The Dragons have one of the bigger junior programs in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association with 14 teams.

“It’s about combining having fun and giving the opportunity for the best to learn and develop their game,” Headberry said.

“These sorts of numbers mean we can spread the talent.

“In the under-16s, we had three teams, and were able to spread the really good players across the sides so they weren’t being stuck batting at number seven.

“We’ve made sure we have terrific coaches – which has been quiet difficult – and the best junior co-ordinator in Alicia Vernon.”