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Cricket: ACT Comets rookie fast bowler faces international duo in debut clash with Tasmania

ACT Comets rookie Joe Slater could not have asked for a tougher assignment in his introduction to the Futures League - facing a former Test batsman on his debut.

But it is exactly the type of daunting scenario the 17-year-old is eager to embrace as part of his cricketing education.

Quick learner: Weston Creek Molonglo fast bowler Joe Slater will make his Futures League debut for the ACT Comets ...
Quick learner: Weston Creek Molonglo fast bowler Joe Slater will make his Futures League debut for the ACT Comets against Tasmania in Hobart on Monday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Slater will face a Tasmanian squad packed with plenty of first-class experience, including Australian representatives Alex Doolan and Xavier Doherty, at Blundstone Arena starting on Monday.

Tasmania are using the match as a virtual warm-up for several of their more senior players ahead of the return of the Sheffield Shield next week.

Top of the order: Alex Doolan receives his Baggy Green before making his Test debut against South Africa in February ...
Top of the order: Alex Doolan receives his Baggy Green before making his Test debut against South Africa in February 2014. Doolan will play for Tasmania against the ACT Comets on Monday. Photo: Morne de Klerk

Doolan made his international debut less than two years ago during the tour of South Africa in February 2014, the top-order batsman going on to play four Tests before losing his spot in the team.

Slater earned his place in the Comets squad off the back of impressive performances for ACT/NSW Country at the under-19 national championships in Adelaide in December.

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He has also continued to push his claims with Weston Creek Molonglo in the ACT Premier Cricket competition, taking 3-11 to help dismiss Tuggeranong for 17 on Saturday, the lowest first-grade score in Canberra for 63 years.

Slater said he was excited about the opportunity to test himself against a side featuring plenty of contracted players.

"It'll be great to get a really good idea to what it means to be a professional," Slater said.

"In the ACT, we're amateurs trying to be pros, whereas when we go there, we're playing against full-on pros.

"It's always great trying to better yourself against better opposition."

Slater has steadily progressed through the ranks in Canberra, representing the ACT in each age group since under-12s.

He was also 12 when he played against men for the first time in a fourth-grade game.

"It was incredible, I was amazed how hard they hit the ball," Slater said.

"It's important for any young guys that they play against guys who are better than them.

"To know you're not a big fish in a small pond, that you're a quite small fish in a big pond and you've got to work your way up."

Slater has become a more consistent bowler this season having worked hard on thinking through his bowling plans.

"In the past, I've just run in and bowled as fast I can and have no idea about what's going on," he said.

"You could say I was the stereotypical dumb quick.

"This year, I've really worked on understanding the game more and trying to get my game sense up."

The Comets are aiming to bounce back after an outright loss to Western Australia at Manuka Oval in their last game.

Sydney Thunder bowler Nathan McAndrew is expected to fly to Hobart on Monday to take his place in the Comets team after Sunday night's Big Bash League final against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG.

Cricket ACT director of coaching Aiden Blizzard will also link up with the team after the BBL final, but won't play to allow younger players to get a chance.

Australian under-19 representative Henry Hunt returns to the Comets side after playing in a tri-series against New Zealand and Pakistan in Dubai.

FUTURES LEAGUE: ACT Comets v Tasmania at Blundstone Arena from Monday to Thursday. Play starts at 10.30am each day.

ACT Comets: Michael Spaseski (c), Matt Condon, Mac Wright, Kerrod White, Tom Rogers, Andrew Harriott, Henry Hunt, Blake Macdonald, Joe Slater, Nathan McAndrew, Cameron Suidgeest, Ben Taylor.

Tasmania: Alex Doolan (c), Xavier Doherty, Jake Doran, Caleb Jewell, Hamish Kingston, Ryan Lees, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Clive Rose, Jordan Silk, Tom Triffitt, Beau Webster.