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By: Richard Millot

Eildon Park’s Sam Harper and Knoxfield’s Mitch Perry have both been named in Cricket Victoria’s squad of contracted talent for Season 2017/18.

Harper, 20, played some of his junior days on Eildon Parade before continuous results saw selection in a number of elite teams, including Melbourne Stars in the BBL, Premier Club Melbourne Cricket Club, Victoria Under 23s, Australia Under 19s and now for Victoria on a full contract for the coming season.

On a Rookie Contract last season, Harper soon came up to speed across all forms of the game and became the first-choice wicketkeeper whilst Matthew Wade was occupied on national duties. With Wade returning to Tasmania, Harper will play a strong part of the Vics’ plans to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Sheffield Shield.

The Harper family are no strangers to providing talented players to Victoria’s elite, with Sam being the nephew of former Victorian batsman Laurie Harper, who scored more than 2000 first-class runs playing for Victoria between 1992-2000, including winning Victorian Player of the Year in 1997/98.

Meanwhile, Perry’s hard work throughout the Cricket Victoria Pathway has seen his efforts rewarded with a Rookie Contract. 

Having broken into Knoxfield’s Norm Reeves Shield team as a 14 year old, Perry’s performances helped guide the Knights to the first Premiership of their current sequence before making the move to Premier Club Monash Tigers last season. Across the season, Perry worked through the grades before the right-arm quick became a noted name amongst the Premier Grade with a wicket with his first delivery and 8 wickets for the match. He then became a mainstay in the Tiger’s bowling attack, claiming 20 Premier Wickets at an average of 22.00.

Perry, 16, was selected in the Victorian Metro Under 17s squad, before capping his season with being named in an Australian Under 19s squad that successfully hosted Sri Lanka in Hobart at the end of last summer - a squad that at the time was stated by Cricket Australia as having been picked with an eye on the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.

Harper and Perry become the latest talents to be added to the list of former FTGDCA Players to rise to play state level, the others being South Belgrave duo Brendan Joseland and current Victorian and Australian Cricketer Glen Maxwell.

Victoria’s first match of the summer is in the JTL One Day Cup on 1 October against Western Australia at the WACA, whilst the Bushranger’s JTL Sheffield Shield defence commences on 26 October against Queensland at the Gabba.

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