It will be a different looking Central Highlands team at the Cricket Victoria under-18 male state championships in January.

A number of bottom-age players impressed during the trials and practice matches to force their way into the squad.

The squad of 13 will include eight bottom-age players and just four players from the previous season’s team.

Highlanders coach Karl Mayne said it was satisfying seeing so many players push for the final squad.

“There’s a number of bottom-agers in the squad and it’s a different feeling,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of fast bowlers and some slower bowlers and there is a bit of batting depth.

“We had no preconceived ideas on the squad and we think it’s a real balanced squad.

“It puts us in a strong position for next season as well.”

Three former Gisborne players are among those to watch for the Highlanders.

Mayne, who is in his second year in charge of the side, said it’s a credit to the club that it keeps producing players that go on to play representative cricket.

“Roby Lane, who is at the national championships at the moment, is certainly capable,” he said.

“He’s playing for Northcote’s premier cricket’s second XI side.

“Sam McCaskill and Riley Vernon are also both at Premier Cricket clubs and have both featured in Victoria squads before.

“Both will bat at the top of the order.”

Joel Garbut, who is also from Gisborne, is part of the squad.

Mayne said they were also excited to see what Darley’s Joel Cadman will do at the championships. He said the middle order batsman impressed the selection panel during the trials.

Other players in the team are Riddell’s Ben Radford, Brown Hill’s Fraser Hunt and Fraser Hay, Ballarat-Redan’s Jack Riding, Barkers Creek’s Darby Semmens, Sunbury United’s Timothy Attard, and Golden Point’s Sam and Matt Harris.

Mayne said the key to the championships was to win early games and then see what happened.

Earlier this year, the Highlanders won one match, after injuries riddled the week.

While the cricket is the main focus, the tournament also gives the side the chance to go away together as team. Mayne said it’s one thing that the country teams really have over the city teams in that aspect.

“It’s one of the highlights and they get to spend time together and form that special bond.

“It’s not just about cricket, it’s about life experiences too.”

The under-16 and under-14 Central Highlands teams will also compete at the state championships in January.

Bacchus Marsh’s Daniel Lalor, Gisborne’s Samuel Mackay, Connor Palmer and Joshua McDonald, Rupertswood’s Emerson White and Riddell’s Sam Dempsey made the under-16 team. In the under-14 team are Darley’s Aaron Cadman, Romsey’s Will Collins, Sunbury’s Conor Reeves, Gisborne’s Spencer Jones, Bacchus Marsh’s Hamish Garner and Sunbury United’s Brody Watts.