Albion captain Andy Mack has hailed the development of less experienced players as a key driver in the strengthening of the side in the bid to reclaim the premiership this season.
Ahead of a one-day clash against Mornington at Kitchener Park on Saturday, Mack singled out medium-pacer Hayden Baker as a youngster who is having an increasing impact as he matures as a person and as a player.
The 16-year-old made his first-grade debut in the 2015-16 season, when Albion won their second straight premiership, and is playing his second full season of top grade.
Mack said the “slightly built” teen, an occasional off-spinner, had “gained a bit of confidence this year” and “knows he belongs” in first grade.
He had taken his improvement “in his stride”, Mack added.
“He’s a good young kid,” Mack said. “He’s got a pretty relaxed personality. Nothing seems to phase him.
“I know if I toss him the ball at any given point he’ll give you 110 per cent. As a captain that’s all you can ask.”
In four matches this season, Hayden has been used sparingly (he has bowled 14 overs) but with effect (four wickets at an average of five).
He has best figures of 3-11 and a strike rate of 21.
In those 14 overs, he has conceded a mere 20 runs, with five maidens.
Mack said Hayden’s efficiency was derived from his “stump to stump” bowling.
“He’s not frighteningly quick - not too many around the district are,” Mack said.
“He bowls a stump to stump line … He’s a bit of a handful when he does a bit off the deck and through the air.
“When you blow a stump to stump line it’s always worrying for batsmen who play across the line.
“Often one or two of his wickets per innings are top batsmen. That’s a sign he’s got a bit of talent.”
Mack named wicket-keeper Zach Martin as another player whose development as a first-grader was benefitting the side, while previously he has labelled teen leg-spinner Will Maggs a player to watch.
“We all know each other’s games … That obviously helps as far as improving as a side goes,” he added.
The final day of the two-day matches last round were washed out and both games finished in draws.
Albion had been engaged in an intriguing grand final replay against Court House.
Chasing 136 for victory, Albion had been due to resume at 4-44.