There was a feeling of change around Western Zone in 2015/16 as a number of key players from the Country Championships-winning side from the season prior had left the scene.
There was no more Tim Cox, Greg Buckley or Mick Curtale and in their place the selectors sprung a surprise by picking two teenage spinners.
Marty Jeffrey was one of those youngsters.
Now, eight seasons later, Jeffrey is captain of a Western side which will hand debuts to two more teenage spinners at this week's 2023/24 Southern Pool carnival at Orange.
Lockie Rummans of Dubbo and Orange's exciting Tom Blowes will both pull on a baggy blue for the first time while Ted Murray, Bailey Brien, Tanvir Singh, Matt Purse, Thomas Nelson, Joey Coughlan and Harry Pearce will all debut for Western in either the Twenty20 or one-day matches.
Jeffrey knows how those players will be feeling and he's eager to not only help them settle, but allow them to show exactly why they've been chosen at this level.
"I'm still fairly young myself but I try and pass on as much of my learnings that I got during my younger years," Jeffrey said.
"I think the main thing for the young blokes is they're probably going to play a bit of a different role than they're used to and the expectations are a little lower when you first come in so they can come in and play with a bit of freedom.
"They can show everyone how good they are without too much pressure, that's the main thing."
In the 2015/16 season Jeffrey played under the captaincy of NSW Country representative Nick Berry, who had returned from a hugely successful career in Sydney where he helped the likes of David Warner, Adam Zampa and Dubbo's own Tim Armstrong develop.
Western won two of three games that season and missed out on a place in the final, but Jeffrey was part of the lineup again the following season when his side claimed Country Championships glory.
"That (2014/15 carnival) was my first real country level men's side and what I learnt was about getting in the fight and playing good, hard men's cricket," Jeffrey said.
"The guys like Nick and Jordan Moran and the list goes on in that side, we had the success we did because of the characters that were in the side.
"It wasn't soft cricket. You go into battle for your mates. You don't give your wicket away, you work hard for each other.
"I think over the years when we've had success it's because of that, when we've gelled and wanted to go into battle."
Jeffrey is confident this season's side can repeat what Western teams of last decade did, when the Zone won three Country Championship titles in the space of five summers.
Western hasn't won a Country Championships since 2016/17 but there has been progress made in recent years after failing to win a match both the 2019/20 and 2021/22 carnivals.
Last season Western won two of three games at Orange and only missed out on a place in the final against Newcastle on net run-rate.
"I think it's exciting. Last year was the first year at home and we built a really good foundation," Jeffrey said.
"We won two out of three last year with 10 debutants and that was a really good start. We said last year it was the first part of a phase and this is the second year at home and we've got no excuses.
"We've built a good platform, we've got a pretty similar squad, it's at Wade Park. I think the ball is in our court."
Western will play in the Regional Bash Twenty20 tournament on Thursday before Country Championships matches against Southern, Central Coast and Riverina the following days.
- WESTERN ZONE'S COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS SQUAD: Marty Jeffrey (c), Matt Everett (vc), Harry Bayliss, Zac Bayliss, Tom Blowes, Bailey Brien, Joey Coughlan, Bailey Edmunds, Ben Knaggs, Ed Morrish, Ted Murray, Thomas Nelson, Ben Parsons, Matt Purse, Lockie Rummans, Tanvir Singh.
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