Marty Jeffrey, Brock Larance and Ben Patterson went to the National Indigenous Cricket Championships with high hopes but few could have predicted the kind of success the Dubbo trio had at Alice Springs.
NSW won the final of the tournament on Monday night, downing Victoria by three wickets to make up for defeat in the decider last season.
The three Dubbo juniors play massive roles for NSW across the Championships and each was rewarded with a place in the Australian Indigenous side.
Jeffrey and Larance finished second and third in the NICC’s wicket-taking stakes respectively while Patterson was 10th in both wickets and runs.
“But that was the whole side. There was no one who didn’t perform,” Jeffrey said.
“We were no one man show and everyone chipped in at least once so that was a good sign and we were just a closeknit group.”
It marked the second time in two years Jeffrey and Patterson had been named in the Australian merit side while the selection for Larance capped off a stellar debut tournament.
Larance, while admitting it was disappointing not to score as many runs as he would have liked, did a fine job with the ball for the Blues and a haul of 6/16 against Northern Territory was a highlight.
“It was just good to play good cricket,” 16-year-old Larance said.
“We played well all week and we might have never needed to be at our absolute best but we played the best cricket each day.
“At the start of the week we were told the expectations were pretty high and that we were expected to make the final and go all the way. After a couple of good wins that really kicked in.”
After dominating the round matches, NSW lost the toss and was sent out into the field in the decider in what was an exact replay of last year’s grand final.
All three Dubbo players again did a job with the ball. Patterson came on early at first change and picked up the massive wicket of Damon Egan, the NICC’s leading run-scorer for just 15, while Jeffrey and Larance again did a fine job controlling the middle overs with their spin.
“We always seem to bowl in partnership when we play together,” Larance said.
“It’s pretty good and we just gel together well.”
The pair did a fine job in the decider, Larance finishing with 1/32 from his 10 overs while Jeffrey took 1/35 from his 10.
“This year with Brock and I as the only spinners, that was a better role for me,” Jeffrey said.
“Batting in those middle overs and then bowling through the middle is a role I like to play.”
Patterson came back on late in the final and finished with an extremely economical 1/13 from eight overs as Victoria finished at 7/190 after 50.
Patterson then again caused carnage with the bat.
After an 80-run stand between Brynley Richards (55) and Brendan Smith (52), Patterson blasted 37 from 23 balls to take his side to the brink of victory.
The hard-hitting Patterson smashed four fours and three sixes in his astonishing 16-minute knock and while Larance (0) and Jeffrey (1) fell late on, the Blues reached the target with relative ease.
“Last year was a bit of a wake-up call so to go into the final and bowl first again against the same side and then chase the runs made it all right,” Jeffrey, now playing in Sydney with University of NSW, said.
Patterson, who had a tournament strike rate of 189, couldn’t be reached for comment.