OVER almost three decades of cricket cricketing, Garth Dean has worked with hundreds of players.
He's worked with the likes of Henry Hunt and Phoebe Litchfield and he coached Western Zone to a successful undefeated Kookaburra Cup campaign back in 2018 and a Country Colts title last year, it's first since 2006-07.
It's that recent success that saw him named Country Cricket NSW Coach of the Year earlier this month at the Country Colts on the South Coast.
"It came out of the blue. It was a big surprise when I got the email," Dean said.
"Bruce Whitehouse [from Cricket NSW] gave a nice little speech. It was really nice."
Dean started playing cricket around the age of 10 and played first grade cricket in Bathurst with Rugby Union during the 1980s.
It was during the early 1990s when he started coaching at the junior level.
It was around the mid-2000s when he started coaching Western in the Kookaburra Cup, the now defunct competition he won in 2018.
After the collapse of the Kookaburra Cup, he moved to Western's Country Colts campaign and helped oversee Western's undefeated win at Queanbeyan back in 2022.
This year he's taking a step back from coaching on Saturdays and will solely focus on Country Colts and the Central West under 15s.
He said the most pleasing thing is seeing the players he's coached over the years playing at a high level.
"When you start looking back, you do see some of these players playing high level cricket," he said.
"That's a really pleasing thing, to think I might've contributed something to where they are.
"It's just a nice thing to do, to see them play well, especially when they've had a bit of success."
He paid tribute to Greg Griffiths and Tony Wells, who have both helped mentor him.
Western's Country Colts campaign came to an end earlier this week, with the team finishing in third, having won three of its five matches.
It was an incredibly tight competition, with champions Newcastle finishing just one win ahead of the next four best teams.
"To finish third after losing the first two was pretty good," Dean said.
"We had seven changes to the team heading in, so it was going to be challenging, but I thought we were great.
"It was a very, very tight carnival. Going into the final day, seven of the eight teams could've still won.
"Mathematically, if we had a bonus point win and if Newcastle lost, we would've won the carnival. It was the tightest carnival I've ever been to."
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