Anlezark in Vics squad

Boisdale-Briagolong cricketer Austin Anlezark has earnt a rookie contract with Victoria for next season. He has been described as a "new version of Jhye Richardson". Photo: Contributed

BOISDALE-BRIAGOLONG cricketer Austin Anlezark has earnt a rookie contract with Victoria for season 2024/25.

Anlezark was named in the state squad, continuing his recent rise among cricket ranks.

The express bowler, aligned with Victorian Premier Cricket side Richmond, has already represented Australia in Under 19 Tests and One Day Internationals.

He will be joined by some huge names in the Victorian squad, including modern day marvel Glenn Maxwell, as well as fellow Gippslander and fast bowler Peter Siddle.

Siddle, from Morwell, took more than 200 Test wickets for Australia before retiring, but is still going around the first class scene.

As he approaches the age of 40 this year, Siddle will surely be one of Anlezark’s mentors over the next summer.

Victoria will enter the 2024/25 campaign with a 28-player squad that it says boasts an exciting blend of homegrown youth and world-class international experience.

Maxwell is one of four Cricket Australia-contracted players in the squad, along with Matthew Short, Todd Murphy and Scott Boland.

Opening batsman Will Pucovski has also been offered a playing contract, as he deals with repeated concussions.

“Understandably there will be a lot of interest in Will Pucovski and what the future holds,” Cricket Victoria General Manager, Cricket Performance, and one-time Test wicketkeeper, Graham Manou said.

“The most important part of this process is Will and his health and wellbeing.

“Cricket Victoria is working closely with Cricket Australia and the expert medical panel that is due to meet soon to review Will’s history. We’ll take the advice from that panel on the appropriate way forward this season.”

Among other headlines in this year’s squad is reigning Bill Lawry and Dean Jones medallist, Fergus O’Neill, who has celebrated an outstanding 2023/24 campaign by re-committing to Cricket Victoria for the next three years.

O’Neill enjoyed a breakout summer for his home state, with the 23-year-old seamer capturing a combined 52 wickets in last year’s Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup (One Day) campaigns.

Cricket Victoria has also confirmed the re-signing of bowlers Mitch Perry and Cameron McClure and all-rounder Will Sutherland, who will captain Victoria in the Marsh Sheffield Shield for the second consecutive season.

Meanwhile, reigning BBL champion and renowned power-hitter Josh Brown will move to Melbourne, bolstering Victoria’s batting stocks.

Brown signed a two-year contract with the Melbourne Renegades earlier this month.

As a rookie, Anlezark will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Liam Blackford (Geelong), Dylan Brasher (Footscray) and Douglas Warren (Melbourne University) who have all been elevated to full contracts this season.

Departures are veteran Nic Maddinson, who has returned home to Sydney for family reasons, and Tom O’Donnell (son of former Test cricketer Simon), Wil Parker, Travis Dean and Matt Fotia.

Victoria will be looking to consolidate on an impressive past three seasons, which has included consecutive Sheffield Shield Final appearances in 2021/22 and 2022/23, and a nail-biting end to last season’s first-class campaign.

Cricket Victoria Head of Male Cricket, David Hussey said he was looking forward to building on the growth over the last three seasons.

“We’re pleased with how our squad is looking for next season,” he said.

“While we didn’t clinch titles last season, there were some real positives for us.

“We’re also looking forward to welcoming some new talent into the squad from Premier Cricket and Australia Under 19 representation – a testament to the work that has been achieved in our talent pathways.”

Anlezark grew up in Briagolong and played junior and senior cricket for Boisdale-Briagolong Cricket Club.

He was a highly-touted junior, featuring regularly in Sale-Maffra Cricket Association Country Week and Gippsland Cricket League teams. He was also Player of the Match for his home club in their Under 14 premiership of 2018/19.

He made a one-off appearance for his old club last season in the SMCA Twenty20 competition.