MUCH like Australia’s Michael Clarke, captaincy has brought out the best in Yinnar cricketer Liam Maynard.
The first time skipper of the Gippsland Cricket League under 18 Traralgon side topped both the batting and bowling charts for his team in this season’s competition, resulting in selection for the Gippsland Pride to contest the state championships in January.
The leg spinning 18 year-old all-rounder was the only Traralgon and District Cricket Association player chosen in the side, after taking nine wickets at an average of 14.78 and scoring 127 runs at 25.40 with the willow in five GCL fixtures.
Maynard’s top score in the competition was a match-winning 47 from 30 balls against Leongatha, which included eight fours and a six.
As a long standing member of MTY Raiders’ A grade team, Maynard was also included in the 17-man senior TDCA GCL side this season, and said his game had improved in the senior grade.
“I feel like this year I’ve really improved; I feel I’ve been batting the best I (ever) have and I’m bowling well too,” he said.
“It’s all just happened for me (and) it’s all come together.”
The increased responsibility of the captaincy was another step forward for Maynard as his junior career draws to a close.
“I captained, which was something different, and we finished just out of the finals,” he said.
“It was good being a leader and taking control, giving speeches and setting fields.”
Next year will mark Maynard’s fourth and final junior cap for the Pride, having represented the region in under 14s, 16s and 18s last year as a bottom age player.
“I just want to make the most of it; it’s my last week as a junior so hopefully I’ll have a good week up there,” he said.
“It’s obviously different playing on different grounds and with people the same age as you so I really enjoy it going up there with all your mates.”
While the accolades continue to pile up for the year 12 SEDA student, Maynard has no immediate plans to pursue cricket in Melbourne, but has trained with Casey South Melbourne and Dandenong and envisions a future in the sport.
Luke Heath, who plays for Hawthorn/Monash University, was the only other Latrobe Valley player to make the Gippsland side.
Several locals were selected in the under 16 Pride team.
Matt Dyke, Jackson McMahon, and Conner Sloyan were chosen from Traralgon, and Matt Hibbs was picked from Central Gippsland.
Traralgon’s Ryan Morley and Dougal Williams made the under 14 team.