Benji Floros might just be Canberra cricket's glimmer of hope.
The emerging Tuggeranong Valley quick is set to make his Futures League debut for the ACT/NSW Country Comets against NSW Metro at Wollongong's North Dalton Park on Monday.
Floros becomes the first ACT-based player to feature for the Comets in a four-day match this summer, with the region's alignment with Cricket NSW seeing the bulk of the spots sharked by Sydney-based players.
A victory would see the Comets finish first on the Futures League table to finish the season, however claiming the national second XI title has rarely, if ever, been a major priority for any state.
The bigger boost for Canberra's premier cricket scene is the pulse provided by Floros' inclusion in a side featuring Matt Gilkes, Ben Taylor, Tom Engelbrecht and Blake Macdonald.
The quartet all have distinct links to the Canberra competition but play premier cricket in Sydney, in a trend that has left some senior players in the capital concerned about the strength of the local competition.
Floros has forced his way into the squad with 26 wickets (ninth most in first grade) in 11 games at an average of 10.81, having long been regarded as a star of the future.
Now he wants to prove those in Canberra have what it takes to match it with the best second XI prospects in the country.
"The Comets program is obviously open to a lot of people. If people step up and show they’re worthy of it, then one hundred per cent, they’re worthy of the opportunity," Floros said.
"I got the call on Monday morning when I was getting on the plane in Melbourne to go to Adelaide for the national premier Twenty20 finals. It definitely sunk in on that flight.
"I was over the moon when I heard I was selected, I’ve been working pretty hard to make that side. To finally be recognised for it, it’s definitely a great feeling."
A debut will see Floros do something his brothers have never done - Jason played for Queensland, while Matt and Tim are regulars for the Australian indoor team, but none have played Futures League cricket for the Comets.
Before he turns his attention to donning a Comets baggy, Floros will look to help Tuggeranong Valley secure the Cricket ACT Douglas Cup minor premiership over the weekend.
Tuggeranong's clash with fourth-placed Weston Creek Molonglo will be played across Saturday and Sunday, meaning Floros faces the prospect of a six-day stretch on the paddock.
"It’s going to be a pretty busy week just thinking about it," Floros said.
"We’re on top now, it’s a pretty good feeling heading into the last round. We can’t lose our heads, the last round is key for us to bring ourselves back into form and make sure we’re ready for the finals.
"We’ve got a few players back now, so everyone is going to be working really hard to push for a first grade spot. Everyone is going to be working together to try to bring that title home."
Monday-Thursday: ACT/NSW Country Comets v NSW Metro at North Dalton Park, 10.30am.
Comets squad: Matt Gilkes, Henry Hunt, Justin Avendano, Blake Macdonald, Jay Lenton (c) (WK), Hayden Kerr, Tom Engelbrecht, Nathan McAndrew, Ben Taylor, Joe Kershaw, Benji Floros, Tom Pinson. Coach: Kyle Piper.
CRICKET ACT DOUGLAS CUP
Saturday-Sunday: ANU v Ginninderra at ANU North Oval, Tuggeranong Valley v Weston Creek Molonglo at Chisholm Oval, Queanbeyan v North Canberra-Gungahlin at Freebody Oval, Eastlake v Western Disttrict-UC at Kingston Oval. All games start at 11am.
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