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The AFL is in danger of losing some of its best young opportunities to rival sports as a result of the changes in the path for minors in Victoria.

This is the widely held view of recruiters and list managers, who fear a scaled-down NAB League program will force guys to consider other codes.

Long gone are the days when the appeal of football, both financial and reputative, automatically surpassed cricket.

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In recent years, the AFL’s loss has been a win for Cricket Victorias, with four players taking the cricket path in place of the oval ball.

Hailed as a potential top-10 pick in 2017, Will Sutherland impressed both Scotch College and Vic Metro during his underage year, despite almost no preseason.

The son of former Cricket Australia CEO, James, made the call to pursue cricket in July of that year and earned a multi-year Victorian contract.

Since then, he has played 39 games at a professional level and took the new ball on Monday alongside James Pattinson in Victorias white-ball clash with New South Wales.

His Melbourne Renegades teammates Zak Evans and Mackenzie Harvey were both excellent schoolboy footballers, with recruiters keeping an eye on the star duo on their underage journey.


Mackenzie Harvey, Will Sutherland and Zak Evans were all talented schoolboy cricketers and are part of the Melbourne RenegadesSource: supplied

Evans was regularly among the best for Xavier College in his concept year in the strong APS schoolboy league, while Harvey showed up in scouting notes in 2016 when he played under Robert Shaw on Brighton Grammar’s premiership team with No. 1 pick Andrew McGrath in Year 10.

In June 2020, Wil Parker turned his back on football and signed a contract with Victoria. It was another feather with a cricket’s hat and a blow to the football, which automatically bragged about its summer rival for so long.

Earlier that season, Parker had made his Sheffield Shield debut with the SCG against New South Wales, claiming four wickets.

Parker also showed his prowess with the oval ball, starring for the Eastern Ranges in the 2019 NAB League competition.

The recovering defender averaged 18 disposals in 16 games, dominating with 27 disposals in the Ranges Grand Final loss to the Oakleigh Chargers.

Parker was one of the better Oriental players in the 2019 NAB League Final. Photo: Graham Denholm / AFL Photos via Getty Images.Source: Getty Images

At the time of his decision, Parker affirmed that the lack of NAB League action due to an interruption with COVID-19 made the decision easier.

With last year’s experience in cricket, it gave me an idea that I have a chance of making it in cricket rather than hedging my bets in footy, the potential top 20 pick said.

If I had the chance to play footy I could have been in a totally different position, I could have had a great season, being drafted and who knows what would have happened?

But in the current circumstances there is clearly no footy, so I didn’t feel so confident to be nominated for the design. And of course I got a chance with cricket and I took it.

It was a very difficult decision, one that I weighed for a long time. I love both sports, but I ended up having to choose one.

Stephen Coniglio, Luke Hodge, Shannon Hurn, Nick Riewoldt and Brett Deledio are among AFL stars who turned their backs on cricket for the sport.

‘Catch of the tournament that is!’ 00:39

In recent years, Nathan Murphy (Collingwood) and Jordan Clark (Geelong) have opted to be called up after the little red ball journey, while Alex Keath earned a three-year deal with Victoria in 2010 before returning to Adelaide as a grown man. age recruiting.

According to nine recruiters and list managers interviewed, a scaled-back NAB League could push boys further away from football.

With almost year-round training programs in cricket and the appeal of T20 wealth, it proves more attractive than ever for teens to follow.

IPL players earn a minimum of $ 35,476 for a two-month tournament. And to think that cricketers today can bounce between T20 leagues around the world and earn millions.

Club sources worry if the AFL doesn’t attract urgent attention, another Wil Parker could slip through their grasp.

Parker wants to bowl for Victoria.Source: AAP

There will undoubtedly be a number of cases in the coming years. Noah McFadyen and Harry Flynn are among those who have represented their state in both cricket and football, and are currently coming down the path.

McFadyen has spent the summer playing First Grade in Queensland for Northern Suburbs alongside Joe Burns and former Testspinner Nathan Hauritz.

He was part of the Brisbane Lions academy and is the younger brother of current player Connor McFadyen. But his father is a cricket person, who coached Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Marsh and Adam Zampa in Australia’s victorious Under 19 World Cup venture in 2010.

While Flynn was part of the Under 15 School Sport Victoria squad in 2019 and recently played for Cricket Victorias Under 17 side in their recent Western Summer Series.

There will always be a battle between sports, that much is clear. And for the first time in recent memory, the pendulum hurls crickets away.

The NAB League, both as a competition and as a path to higher honors, has a significant role to play in regaining that preponderance.

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