One heavy loss proved costly for Western Zone at the Country Championship northern pool carnival, but captain Mitch Bower is adamant every player in his squad took something from Inverell to better their game.
The new-look Western won two of its three matches at Inverell but a bonus point loss to Central Coast on Saturday ruined any chance of finishing top of the group and moving through to the championship final at Bowral.
The nine-wicket loss was sandwiched by two gritty wins, the first by 12 runs over North Coast and the second a 23-run victory over Central Northern on Sunday.
While bluntly stating “we didn’t play good enough cricket,” Bower also described the results as “bittersweet”, adding the Western Zone side featuring eight debutants and four teenagers will be better for the experience at Inverell.
“Everyone took something away with them,” Bower said.
“They get this experience but it’s a bit hard with these young fellas. You might only get them for another season or two before they move on to uni or to test themselves in Sydney so you don’t get them for too long.
“But hopefully they have taken something from this. Then they can go and improve their cricket, their club, and their district and then cricket here just gets stronger."
Western saved some of its best cricket for the end at Inverell, with Dubbo duo Ben Patterson and Marty Jeffrey producing brilliant individual efforts that proved decisive.
Each of the four sides at Inverell went into Sunday with a chance of winning the pool, but Western needed a massive bonus point win to make it through.
They started well as Patterson hit 92 from 79 balls in Western’s total of 232, it’s highest total of the carnival, while Brock Larance and Nic Broes each chipped in with 34.
Jeffrey then took 5/54 from his 10 overs of leg spin while Patterson took 3/47 to help dismiss Central Northern for 209.
It wasn’t enough to move to the top of the pool but those two efforts proved to be Western’s standout individual performances of the carnival.
“I said it last week but ‘Patto’ is well good enough to perform at this level with bat and ball,” Bower said.
“He got 40-odd on day one and then the 90 so that shows how far his batting has come.
“And Marty too, he didn’t get the results he wanted with the bat but he’s worked really hard and he bowled well for us each day.”
While Patterson was among the runs on Sunday, no other big scores across the three days proved costly.
Larance made 64 on day one but Bower said partnerships and patience at the crease was what Western needed more of.
“Batting overs was a bit of a drain for us and something we didn’t do enough. We left runs in the bank,” he said.
“A lot of blokes got starts and that’s frustrating to a degree but no one was out there trying to get out.
“It’s early in the season and a lot of these guys haven’t played a lot of cricket but hopefully we can build on this and come back stronger next season.”
Central Coast finished as the winner of the carnival. After a loss on day one, Central Coast crushed Western on Saturday and followed it up with a 74-run win over North Coastal on Sunday.
That side will meet the winner of the southern pool carnival at Bowral’s Bradman Oval on November 25.