SHIFT: NSW Country representative Joe Price (left) remains but skipper Shane Burley (wicketkeeper) and all-rounder Ben Woolmer (bowler) won’t be going around for Wests next season. Picture: Max Mason-HubersThere will be a change ofscenery for Wests next season with the departure of two familiar faces and James King taking over the captaincy.
King will replace wicketkeeper Shane Burley, who is hanging up the gloves after more than two decades in the Newcastle District Cricket Association first grade competition, while veteran all-rounder and club coach Ben Woolmer is also finishing at the Rosellas.
The 42-year-old Burley has endorsed Port Macquarie-raised King, who has been at Wests since 2012-2013 and experienced the role previously, to be the new leader moving forward at Harker Oval.
“James King will take over and I think he’ll be quite good at it,”Burley said.
“He has a really good cricketing brain and hadsome good exposure to the rep stuff this year. It will be good for him and the team.”
Burley started his senior career at Wests, then known as Lambton-New Lambton, before shifting to Stockton for a similar eight-year period. He had a couple ofsummers off before coming back with the Rosellas and skippering the last two campaigns.
He will continue as Newcastle representative coach,marking Burley’sfifth campaign with the group, but playing himself has become increasingly difficult.
“I was playing a bit of golf [when I stopped last time], but it wasn’tthe same sort of feeling,” Burley said.
“I missed the competitiveness of it andI felt theurge to come back, but I’m done now.My knees are okay, but I’ve actually struggled withmy hands andhaven’t been able to train like I should, not the catching volume required because I’m always in care and maintenance mode.”
Burley said Woolmer, who took 33 wickets with his leg spinners and finished equal second on the 2016-2017player of the year points, would be a “big loss”.
“Benny was outstanding this year and still could haveplayed rep cricket as a spinner, he’s just that standard,” Burley said.“He’s been a real bonus for the club the last two years, never misses a training session and haspassed on his knowledge.”
Burley said paceman Peter Lojszczyk (England) was expected to return to Wests next seasonand join NSW Country representatives Joe Price and Tom Allen in the bowling attack.
Elsewhere, grand final captains Josh Trappel (Hamilton-Wickham) and Mark Littlewood (Belmont) have indicated they will go around again in 2017-2018 along with Simon Moore (Merewether).
Steve Mace (Charlestown) will also continue as skipper after taking over mid-season from injured Dane Macourt, who won’t play next year but stays onto help coachalongside Michael Hill and Gary Pinches.
Richard Green (Cardiff-Boolaroo) may do the job once more, but would stand aside ifa “long-term option presented itself”.