TRARALGON’S Lee Stockdale will be on his way to Canberra next year after being named captain of the Victory Country cricket side.
The last Country Cricket Championships took place in Toowoomba in 2020, as the last two championships were cancelled due to COVID-19.
Victoria won the 2020 Country Cricket Championships, defeating Western Australia by 40 runs in the Grand Final, with Stockdale playing a vital role in that winning team.
Stockdale plays for Ex-Students in the Traralgon District Cricket Association (TDCA), where Ex-Students are enjoying a decent start to the 2022/23 season, sitting second with only one loss.
He is currently averaging 39 with the bat from three matches, his highest total this season 84 against Rovers.
With the ball from those three games, Stockdale has taken six wickets at an average of 10.67 runs per wicket – his best figures 3/8 against Glengarry.
The 2023 Country Cricket Championships will be Stockdale’s sixth carnival representing Victoria Country.
This will be the first time that Stockdale will lead the squad as captain, after serving as vice-captain three previous times.
“It was a nice feeling (to be announced as captain), it’s always nice to get picked in the squad and obviously to get named as captain is nice,” Stockdale said.
Victoria will hope to go back-to-back at the Championships, with Stockdale believing it is well within reach.
“(We) want to play well, we won the last one in Toowoomba, so it’d be nice to win again, especially with the side that we’ve got.”
As the new captain, Stockdale will take on some new roles within the squad, on and off the field.
Stockdale said he will be “making sure everyone’s comfortable, everyone’s happy and settled,” off the field.
“I’ll have to make some decisions out on the ground and try to lead from the front at the same time,” he said about his duties on the field.
In terms of self-preparation, Stockdale says, “nothing’s changed.”
However, due to the different dates compared to past championships, Stockdale believes that his squad will have more time to prepare.
“We’re probably luckier this (season), because normally it’s straight after the New Year,” Stockdale said.
“Normally between the round before Christmas and the Championships – you don’t get any cricket in for two or three weeks.
“This carnival’s not until mid-to-late (January), so we’ll actually be able to train a little bit.”
Stockdale will be joined by fellow Gippslanders Jack Rietschel and Jack Wrigglesworth, who now plays in Geelong.
“Jack Wrigglesworth at the last tournament took the most wickets and made the All-Australian team,” Stockdale said.
“Jack Rietschel’s an absolute star, he’s one of our spin bowlers that can make some handy runs.”
The Country Cricket Championships will take place between January 13 and 20, 2023, in Canberra, with the competition comprising most Australian states.