Blend of experience and youth for Austria squad

Austria Cricket Association
Wed, Jun 18, 2014 3:30 PM

Blend of experience and youth for Austria squad
Austria’s squad for the Pepsi ICC Europe Division 2 tournament in Essex features a blend of experience and youth, with the team once again captained by wicketkeeper/batsman Amar Naeem, and with an experienced core of experienced senior players, many of whom represented the squad in Sussex last summer in ICC Europe Division 1.

There is also a recall for Benjamin Loader, an integral member of many past Austrian National Teams, back in the team alongside the experienced players like Aamir Malik, Imran Goraya, Babar Nadeem, Tiran Perera and Munir Ahmed. Lakmal Kasthuri Arachchige, who rose to prominence as a junior, his talent nurtured at Austria CC Wien, is one of the most experienced players in the team, having first played for the National Team back in 2002 as a teenager.

One of the highpoints of the National Team’s participation in last year’s ICC Europe Division 1 was the emergence of Imran Asif, 23, who was Austria’s most consistent and leading performer in Sussex, and is the team’s vice captain. The squad is also boosted by the inclusion of Shadnan Khan, a destructive top order batsman and pace bowler, from the Afghan Steiermark Cricket Club based in Austria’s second city, Graz. As a youngster, Shadnan had been tipped for future full representative honours in Afghanistan and has now qualified to play for the Austrian National Team, having been a consistent performer in recent seasons in Austria’s national league. Waqar Zalmai has been called up to the main squad as a replacement.

Of the current group of younger players, Armaan Randhawa, 19, is one of the stars for the future. 2013 was an exceptional summer for him, as he graduated to full representative honours, having previously represented the U17 National Team in the Isle of Man in 2010, and finishing 2013 as the ACA’s player of the season and leading run-scorer, finishing only a handful of runs ahead of Nandeep Soggi, who is also in the team. He is not one to rest on his laurels, already being involved in youth coaching at Austria CC Wien and the newly formed SNASY ACADEMY to help unearth the next generation of Austrian cricketing talent.

This season has seen a realignment of cricket in Austria, with a stronger focus towards building towards the future – with greater emphasis on youth development and creating a pathway for the next generation of talent to receive coaching with the goal of them forming the stable nucleus of the national team for the future. Youth initiatives, having been traditionally run as small programmes within clubs, now have an additional tier of coaching – focussed strongly around the SNASY ACADEMY.

Andrew Simpson-Parker a mainstay of Austrian Cricket for many years, as a player and official, has assembled a group of coaches around him, with the very welcome addition of Oscar Wanigesekera as assistant coach, and there is also an increased emphasis on fitness in addition to honing technical skills. The extended squad for preparation for this year’s National Team featured a number of younger players, who will come to the fore in the coming years.

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