Baby Blues out to prove a point

Generation Next will be the theme for NSW this summer as the Blues attempt to replace a host of departed cricket stars.

The Blues finished third in the one-day competition last season with a 4-4 record, but bombed badly in the Sheffield Shield, notching just one outright victory from 10 games.

Veteran batsman Simon Katich, paceman Brett Lee and opener Phil Jaques have since retired, while Usman Khawaja, Phillip Hughes and spinner Nathan Hauritz sought opportunities elsewhere.

The mass exodus has paved the way for 20-year-old Nic Maddinson to stamp his authority at the top of the order, while 23-year-old Scott Henry also has a chance to prove a point in both forms of the game.

Sean Abbott, Josh Lalor and Chris Tremain are other rising stars who can expect to see more action.

Blues all-rounder Steve Smith said the injection of young talent was exciting for the team, and was looking forward to what they could produce in Sunday’s one-day clash with Western Australia at the WACA Ground.

“We’ve lost a few players obviously but we’ve got some good, strong, young guys coming through, some young batters that are going to get an opportunity to impress,” Smith said.

“It’s exciting to see that.

“They’ve not played much with this team and we’re trying to build a strong culture.”

Test skipper Michael Clarke will captain the Blues in Sunday’s one-dayer and next week’s Shield clash with WA, while Brad Haddin will don the wicket-keeping gloves after spending time away from the game earlier this year to deal with a personal issue.

Smith, who has played five Tests and 32 one-day internationals for Australia, will be doing his best to impress Clarke in order to thrust his name back into the minds of national selectors.

Although Smith remains part of Australia’s one-day set-up, he has struggled to lock down a permanent spot in the team.

“Hopefully I can get a few scores early in the season and contribute to NSW winning,” the 23-year-old said.

WA only narrowly missed a berth in the Shield final last summer, but their form in the 50-over format was terrible, with the Warriors managing just one win from eight games.

However, with WA boasting the likes of Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Mitchell Johnson, Adam Voges and Marcus North on Sunday, Smith said the Warriors represented a formidable challenge.

NSW: Michael Clarke (capt), Sean Abbott, Doug Bollinger, Trent Copeland, Brad Haddin, Moises Henriques, Scott Henry, Josh Lalor, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Steve O Keefe, Steve Smith, Chris Tremain (one to be omitted, 12th man to be named).

WA: Marcus North (capt), Michael Beer, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Liam Davis, Michael Hogan, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Rimmington, Tom Triffitt, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman. (12th man to be named).

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