Northern Counties set for step into the unknown to face Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Challenge Cup
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A WHOLE new challenge is waiting for Northern Counties Cricket Club this weekend as they enter the Scottish Challenge Cup.
Unlike the regionalised league competitions they usually compete in, the Challenge Cup is open to teams from all over the country.
Sunday’s match is evidence of just how unfamiliar the territory will be for Northern Counties, as they travel to The Tryst to take on Stenhousemuir Cricket Club.
The second-tier Western District Cricket Union outfit saw off Aberdeen Grammar in the opening round, while Counties received a bye straight into the second.
So the Inverness side’s captain Shaun Thomas is looking forward to testing himself against a team he knows very little about.
“The Challenge Cup is a bit of an unknown,” Thomas explained.
“A lot of the teams down there in the central belt are teams we’ve never played against. The only team we’ve played there in the last year or two is Huntly.
“We don’t know what sort of side they will put out, or what kind of wicket it is, but as long as we’re competitive and put everything into it, we’ve shown that we’ve got a really strong team, and we’ll give it a good go.
“They will have some really good players, so it’s about how we rise to that challenge.”
Before that though, Counties will return to domestic action in the first round of this year’s T20 Cup.
Confidence will be high after a convincing five-wicket win over Ross County in the league last week, and the two sides will once again face off at Castle Leod, with Nairn County completing the group.
It will likely be a very different test compared to the following day, but Thomas has lofty ambitions in all three Nosca competitions.
“The T20 is very intense, you have to score off most balls, but we can have a bit of fun with that,” he added.
“Bowling-wise we need to be hitting the areas that we’re looking at.
“When it comes to the Challenge Cup, that’s where we really need to be stepping up.
“It’s a different format and, for ourselves, it’s still early days in the season so the more time we spend out in the middle the better whether that’s T20 or longer.
“For us in Nosca, the league, T20 and the Senior Cup, we want to compete in all three fronts there.”