By Sam Alexander
Manly Cricket’s future is certainly bright with Pathway Program juniors Aiden Bariol and Jack Edwards two of the standouts in the recent Australian U/17’s National Championships.
Edwards was drafted into the Northern Territory squad as a composite player while Bariol represented the Cricket Australia XI, which was made up of the nation’s best U/16 talent chosen to play an age group above.
Edwards, who finished as the fourth best batsman of the competition with 364 runs at an average of 45 has continued his run of form, cracking 62 against Fairfield-Liverpool on Saturday.
The young all-rounder points to the Championship experience as the catalyst for his run-scoring ability.
“The tournament has given me confidence that I can succeed against strong opposition,” Edwards said.
“Cementing a spot in third-grade is a goal I want to achieve this year and then continue on from there.”
One of Edwards highlights for the NT ‘Frilled-Neck Lizards’ was playing against his home-grown New South Wales side.
“It was great playing NSW who I had done all the pre-season with and were my mates. I really wanted to beat them, and we did which was great.
“There was some fun but competitive banter on-field and I fired up the NSW quick by saying ‘nice off-cutter’. They certainly didn’t appreciate my comments.”
Edwards third-grade teammate Bariol managed to rack up a few scores while keeping it tidy behind the stumps, taking 11 dismissals and smacking a high-score 50* off 38 balls.
Bariol’s performances are an extremely impressive feat with the 15-year-old taking it to players older and more experienced than the young wicket-keeper.
Playing under the guidance of head coach and former Australia international Stuart Law, Bariol is now ready to use this ‘great experience’ to propel his Grade cricket career.
“It (the tournament) will help me at Manly as I can use all the knowledge I gained from playing and coaching,” Bariol said.
“I had such a great time training in the National Cricket Centre and playing with the boys from other states as well.
“I want to have a fun season in third grade, aiming to score 50’s and then converting those.
“I’ll also look to have a rock solid role in our charge to the Greenies (Greenshield) title as well as hopefully playing some PG’s (Poidevin-Gray) matches. “
Tipped outsiders from the beginning, Bariol’s CA XI side silenced the doubters after winning three of five matches and scoring the third highest runs for the tournament.
They eventually went down to Championship winners Queensland in an enthralling semi-finals affair.
Edwards’ adopted Northern Territory side were eliminated in the quarter-finals, going down to Victoria Metropolitan by 77 runs.