WAGGA City youngster Luke Naumann wouldn't have dreamed he'd be entrusted with the new ball in his debut season of first grade, let alone in a grand final.
But the 17-year-old is confident the lessons learned from a Brayden Ambler power hitting clinic last start will help when he does battle with the South Wagga lynchpin again in Saturday's decider.
Naumann has taken the new ball for the Cats ever since he took 3-46 in a round three win over South Wagga.
But led by Ambler (52 off 43 balls), Naumann finished with 0-31off three overs in the semi final, which was abandoned to hand the Cats first spot in the decider after claiming the minor premiership.
The Riverina Anglican College student said Ambler's surge was a handy experience to get under the belt before the trophy goes on the line at Robertson Oval.
"It was just stand and deliver. He came pretty hard at me early," Naumann said.
"I've never seen power like that, he hits the ball pretty pure and put me under a bit of pressure.
"I've talked to a fair few people at Wagga City, they've got full belief in me which is reassuring, and told me to back myself.
"We've talked about plans to him now, and how I can stay calm if he does get on top.
"I'm working on back my ability and not feeling the pressure if a batter does get on top of me again."
Naumann has taken 15 wickets at 16.60 this season, which places him seventh on the competition wicket-taking list.
He has usually been able to rely on his raw talent and pace to get by in the lower grades, but has enjoyed the challenge of trying to work out strategies to counter first grade batters.
"I've enjoyed the challenge of trying to handle pressure and work batsmen over more, the more strategic side of the game rather than just trying to bowl as fast as I can," he said.
"Josh (Thompson, Cats captain-coach) has come in with plans, he's got prior knowledge of how these guys like to bat and I don't so he can tell me their weaknesses and how I can try and exploit that. He's backed me, and I'm grateful for the opportunity."
A right-arm swing bowler, Naumann never expected to be handed the new ball but is now comfortable with the role.
"I definitely didn't expect it, I thought I'd just be a first change bowler all year," he said.
"I don't remember when he (Thompson) told me but Tim Kross was out for a week, I bowled well that game and kept it since.
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