Dubbo and Bathurst played out one of the strangest yet most enthralling representative cricket matches of recent times in last year’s Western Zone Premier League (WZPL) grand final tie.
If spectators get a match half as entertaining as that final in this Sunday’s opening round of the new season then they’ll be in for a great time.
The Dubbo District Cricket Association side goes into the grand final rematch at The Scots School with a few key names absent – namely former captain and three-time NSW Country representative Jordan Moran.
But his leadership role will be ably filled by RSL-Colts all-rounder Marty Jeffrey, who returns to Dubbo cricket this season after spending last summer with the University of NSW.
The visitors will be hoping to repeat last year’s opening round win over Bathurst to kick start their title defence.
“If we play our best cricket then we should win,” Dubbo’s young skipper said.
“We’ve got a good balance of young guys and older guys. [We’re] losing a couple from last year … but developing some younger guys through while we’ve still got some older guys, it’s a good transition time.”
Those younger ones include under 17 talents Brock Larance and Thomas Nelson as well as NSW Country Colts Tom Atlee and Jeffrey himself.
He’s expecting a big game from Atlee on Sunday.
“Definitely, with the ball and the bat in the middle order,” Jeffrey said.
“He’s trained well this off-season … coming off the under 19s state challenge which he performed well at.”
“Then we’ve got Stuart Naden back in the country from playing a few years ago and a few other new guys in Trent Smith – he’s an exciting prospect. This will be his first game in Dubbo after moving from Sydney, he’s a good player so we’ll be keen to see what he provides.”
Jameel Qureshi returns to skipper the Bathurst side with St Pat’s Old Boys captain Adam Ryan named as his deputy.
Josh Toole is sitting out this season of cricket, leaving a big all-rounder hole to fill in the team, while Wayne Sellers’ absence this game takes away some batting firepower.
A big gain for the Bathurst squad this year is strike bowler and recent Under 17s NSW representative inclusion Tanvir Singh who has come across from the Lithgow association.
Singh’s fellow Under 17s National Championships-bound teammate Ben Mitchell will also look to leave his mark on the Bathurst side.
Bathurst came up a run short of defending their WZPL title when both they and the Dubbo batting lineups saved up some of their worst performances of the season for when they didn’t need it.
Individual brilliance from Bathurst’s Wayne Sellers (57) and Matt Stephen (42) got their team to 189 all out, as Dubbo’s Tom Atlee (4-20) did the damage.
Dubbo’s 53 extras allowed Bathurst to post a competitive total.
An unbeaten 71 from Dubbo’s Ben Patterson helped his side draw level in the face of a strong Bathurst attack.
Atlee’s dismissal at the hands of Nic Broes – who features again in this season’s Bathurst squad – left Dubbo stranded on 189.
“I don’t know what to expect from Dubbo this year,” Qureshi said.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on what we’re doing and go from there.”
Jeffrey himself is enjoying being back in Dubbo after a move to Sydney to pursue his cricket proved a bit much, too soon.
He’ll make his return for RSL Colts on Saturday and remains committed to growing as a player, and seeing where the sport can take him.
“I just don’t think I was quite ready for things down there,” he said.
“It’s still in the back of my mind, to play cricket so if I can just keep trying to play the best cricket I can, but you’ve still got to look at what you’re going to do in your life as well.
“If that’s where it takes me then that’s great. I’ll keep trying to play the best cricket I can.”