Dubbo Ben Patterson has been recognised as one of the nation’s best country cricketers, being named in the Australian Country merit team at the weekend.
The NSW Country and Newtown all-rounder received his baggy green following a breakout debut at the Australian Country Cricket Championships at Shepparton, where he finished with bowling figures of 10-226, a strike rate of 30.0 and a batting average of 27.0.
“It’s always an honour to receive a baggy green – whether it’s the actual baggy green or for country cricket – I’m very, very happy to have received it,” Patterson said.
“I’m very proud but it just goes to show that if you put your mind towards something, follow your processes and prepare well, whatever you set out to achieve will happen.
“To be honest, I’m still being very critical of my own performances. I think I went well but there were definitely areas to improve upon, which gives me brighter hope for the future and if I can identify and work on those weaknesses now, it shows I can go much further in this sport.”
Patterson – who has already represented Australia overseas as part of last year’s Aboriginal XI tour of England – shone on debut for NSW Country, helping them to claim the Twenty20 title in their undefeated first week of the carnival.
The Bush Blues didn’t record a win in the one-day championship, dropping them to fourth overall, but Patterson was at his best with the bat, managing a game-high 72 not out against eventual runners-up Victoria Country.
But just days after receiving his highest honour, the 22-year-old is already planning his next move.
Cracking the Big Bash League would be “the dream”, he said, and “I wouldn’t mind JLP [One-Day] Cup too, now I’m thinking about it”.
But first he hopes to move back to Sydney to join club Campbelltown-Camden – for whom he made three cameo appearances in the Kingsgrove Sports Twenty20 Cup late last year – full time.
“While I was over in England with the Australian Indigenous XI, our head coach [Jeff Cook] was also the head coach of the Campbelltown-Camden Ghosts and he was a big believer in my Twenty20 form,” Patterson said.
He spent a number of weekends playing McDonalds Megahit of a Friday and then RSL-Whitney Cup of a Saturday for Newtown, before driving to Sydney to play with the Ghosts of a Sunday.
And the hours spent travelling had their benefits.
“You have a lot of reflection time to decide what role you want to play for a team, so it can be beneficial,” Patterson said.
Patterson has some more travel in his future, when he and fellow Dubbo locals Marty Jeffrey and Brock Larance head to the Northern Territory to once again represent NSW at the Imparja Cup.
He said pulling on the NSW cap was always an honour, but doing it for his Indigenous culture and his family “always makes it that much more special”.
“We just look to do our best and make everyone proud.”
But after seeing out the 2018-19 season, he hopes to return to Sydney.
“Just to be down there playing in the higher levels and furthering my game, that’s the top priority and that’s what needs to come about within the next year,” he said.
“[Dubbo cricket] has been a good stepping stone to the city, and then coming back just to learn a bit more about myself as well as progressing other aspects of my life, I feel a lot more confident going back this time to showcase my skills as a player.
“I’m very happy to be going back and showing what Dubbo can produce.”
He hopes to be an inspiration to other Dubbo juniors looking to represent NSW and even Australia.
“I played all my junior cricket in Dubbo, so hopefully we can negate that stigma that it’s just Dubbo cricket,” Patterson said.
“If you put the work in and surround yourself with the right people and trust your processes, there’s no reason you can’t do this as well.”