In late May, Cricket NSW announced the male and female Country NSW Academy Squads, and six Goulburn District Junior Cricket Association alumni made the cut.
Bella Greig, Mikaylah John, Rhaine Pik, Bridgette Anable, Blake McCarten and Callum Smith all impressed with their outstanding form throughout the 2018/19 season and were named in the ACT/Southern District squads.
Selection in the academy squads ensures them 10 weeks of high-quality coaching, starting from early June for the male squads and mid-July for the females.
Blake McCarten is now in his second year with the academy.
His mother, Derarne McCarten, said she thought her son had "a reasonable chance" of making the squad based on his form at the Under 15s National Championships in February.
"But at the same time, you can't count your chickens before they hatch in sport. There's a lot of good kids out there," she said.
Mrs McCarten said Blake's selection was a moment of great pride for the family, adding that he has "worked very, very hard".
"So, I suppose from a parent's point of view, it was well deserved."
Eight squads were named for the male academy, while seven were named for the female, a result that Cricket NSW said highlighted "both the growth of female cricket in NSW and the Country Pathway system."
On the Cricket NSW website, its female talent manager, Steve Jenkin, said the depth of the junior squads was crucial to the development of the senior game.
"Each of the Country Academy squads increased by about 10 to 15 players and that was after about 400 nominations throughout the rural and regional areas," he said.
"With the Under 13 State Challenge being in place now, the academies take on a greater importance and I think that will work well.
"The academies are vital to developing a pool of players for the future selection of Under 15 and 18 squads at national championship level.
"Without that depth, performance at higher levels suffers."
With six players in the squads, the GDJCA can rest easy knowing it is moving in the right direction and providing young cricketers an excellent platform for future honours.
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