Most would expect Dubbo captain Mitch Bower to be full of praise for cricket in the city after winning through to another Western Zone grand final, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday.
Dubbo beat a spirited Cowra by three wickets to ensure next weekend’s grand final will be played at No. 1 Oval but after the match Bower questioned the commitment of some players.
A host of regulars were unavailable for the match and a number of fill-ins, many on debut, impressed in Sunday’s win.
“It’s the same old crap every season,” Bower said when discussing what it will be like choosing a side for the final.
“Before the Western Zone side is picked everyone wants to play and then after that everyone is unavailable and isn’t here and it’s getting a bit old.
“We’ll see who’s available … it’s pretty tough when you’ve got to take someone out of a winning side to get others in.”
Bower said Jordan Moran and Brock Larance were bath valid absentees due to representative commitments.
The ones who did play on Sunday produced a mature display against a Cowra side looking to make the Premier League final for the first time.
Batting first on a tricky No. 1 Oval pitch, Cowra made a steady start after losing key batsmen Nick Berry (5) and Mick Curtale (0) early on.
Cowra were 6/98 at the second drinks break but a fine 77-run stand between the hard-hitting Zach Starr (58) and former Dubbo player Tim Berry (47) helped the visitors post 196.
Henry Railz continued his fine weekend by taking 4/41 while Tom Atlee claimed 2/26.
Bower praised Dubbo opening bats Angus Norton (29) and Darrell Williams (19) for setting the platform and putting on 59 for the first wicket in the chase.
Dubbo lost 4/32 at one stage to give Cowra a lift but Bower, batting at five, took it on himself to see the innings through.
He found support in Thomas Nelson (14) and Ben Patterson (27) but the skipper was vital to the win and when he departed for 51 just seven runs were needed for victory.
A Ben Strachan six with eight balls and three wickets remaining decided the match.
“It was a tricky deck to bat on. It was hard but it was up and down and I batted for a fair while and never felt in so that tells you,” he said.
“But we talk about taking the game deep when we’re batting and that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t try and score all the runs in 40 overs, we took it to the end and utilised all the balls.”
Captain Nick Berry was the best with the ball, taking 3/46 from his 10 while Starr (3/57) and Brendan Traves (0/21 off 10) also bowled well in the loss.
Cowra coach Matt Crawley was understandably disappointed but remained proud of Cowra’s efforts this season.
A win on Sunday would have seen Crawley’s men host the decider but instead their season is over and Dubbo meet Bathurst for the title.
Cowra was a genuine powerhouse of Western Zone cricket roughly a decade ago and while Crawley said his side couldn’t look to past sides as the level required, he was positive about the current Cowra group.
“They played their hearts out took the game right to the finish,” Crawley said.
“We enjoy being the small town against the big towns and we’ve set ourselves up and we’ll continue to improve if we can keep Nick and Tim Berry and Mick Curtale and that core of senior guys together then there’s no reason why we can’t continue to make inroads.
“We’re not trying to re-live the past, we’re interested in trying to develop this group of guys and we’ve seen progress.
“I’ve certainly seen progress in the two years I’ve been involved and we’re making little steps forward.”