Riverina cricket captain Zac Simmonds has put club teams on notice after two of his name players starred at the next level.
Wodonga recruit Theo Valeri was Riverina's man of the match in Sunday's loss to Newcastle in the NSW Country Championship grand final at Goulburn, although Newcastle seamer Adrian Chad won the Mark Curry Medal after scoring 14 runs and taking 5-25 off 10.
Corowa left-arm off-spinner Ben Mitchell was outstanding with the ball, snaring 2-37 from 10 overs, while he chipped in with 21 runs, including two sixes.
The pair arrived with enormous reputations, but Valeri's season has been derailed by COVID restrictions and a groin injury, while Canberra-based Mitchell has struggled with the bat.
"Wodonga has got a good one there (in Valeri), he hasn't fired yet for them, but he's the type of player who can take them very deep off his own bat and same with Corowa, I know Benny hasn't fired a shot for them yet, but he's probably the best player in our comp (Cricket Albury-Wodonga), if he has a good three weeks (in finals), who knows," Simmonds posed.
Valeri's effort in top-scoring (38) for either team was superb, given he tackled the pace of teenage debutant Aiden Cahill when he arrived at the wicket at 3-23.
Cahill, who's bolted away as the leading wicket-taker in the powerful Newcastle competition, worried all Riverina batsmen, claiming a miserly 1-5 from five overs in his first spell.
But the Griffith-based left-hander survived and later thrived, flat-batting Cahill for a missile-like six over his head when he returned to the crease.
Valeri produced his best effort for Riverina with the ball, snaring 1-27 from 10 overs, so the fact he was able to lift is a worrying sign for CAW opponents.
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The powerfully-built all-rounder has played only five games for Wodonga.
"It's been hard (missing club cricket), I've played about as many games here as club level, so it's been hard to get consistency, but it is what it is and next year will be different hopefully," he said.
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