We're here. The top 10.
(min cost $8)
Login or signup to continue reading
Western Zone has been home to a huge number of talented cricketers this century and after counting down all week, it's time to unveil the number one player.
Every player in the top 10 is a champion of the game and you can let us know your thoughts by commenting at the bottom of this article. Check out the best of the best here:
It was pretty clear early on Mick Delaney was one to watch. In 2004/05 the 17-year-old all-rounder became the youngster person to ever be crowd Orange District Cricket Association's player of the season.
It came as a shock for the teen but given he was batting at 44 and bowling at 13 it wasn't for anyone else.
From there he rose to not only a star of Orange cricket with CYMS, but was in the South Australia Redbacks system and then a dominant figure in Canberra cricket. Later in his career he returned to Orange and picked up where he left off, especially as a marquee man in the Twenty20 format.
A star all-rounder and simply one of the best talents to come out of the region in a number of years.
How Nick Berry didn't make the NSW Country team in 2001/02 remains one of life's great mysteries.
The opening bat was solid during the pool stage and then made 97 in the stunning win over Newcastle in the final.
The quality shown in that innings proved why the Cowra star went on to have a successful career in Sydney, where he captained the NSW Second XI and was often regarded as the best player at the time not to represent NSW.
He returned to Cowra last decade and was quickly installed as Western Zone captain, and finally earned that NSW Country cap in 2015/16.
A class performer with the bat, Berry is towards the top of the list of the finest players to come out of Cowra.
A metronome with ball in hand. You knew exactly what you would get from the Dubbo opening bowler and that was nothing good for batters.
'Muppa' was renowned for bowling long spells. So often for club side CYMS he'd bowl something like 35 overs straight on a stinking hot Saturday without a drop in his pace. Figures of 4/50 were run-of-the-mill in those days.
A tall quick who got plenty of bounce out of a pitch, Hughes was a regular for NSW Country in the first decade of the century due to his sheer consistency of taking wickets with Western Zone.
At a time when Western was struggling at the country level, he stood head and shoulders clear of the pack.
When you think of an intimidating figure in cricket you might picture a towering fast bowler steaming into the crease. You'd be wrong. The definition of intimidation in cricket is Mitch Bower walking down the pitch to a quick, ready to bomb him straight back over his head.
Bower is one of the most enjoyable Western batters to watch when in full flight. There are few shots the former Western Zone captain doesn't have in his arsenal but his ability to hit hard and long straight down the ground is one of his greatest strengths.
A former NSW Country representative, Bower scored a century on Western duty in the 2014/15 season and then a 90 the following campaign helped secure a baggy blue.
His 51 not out from 20 balls in the Orana Outlaws' 2016/17 Plan B Regional Bash grand final victory is also one of the best and most destructive knocks of last decade.
Venner might not have NSW Country selection of unforgettable Western Zone performances under his belt, but he does have a massive mountain of runs.
The best cricketer to come out of Orange for at least three decades, it felt like Venner was passing 50 every time he went out to bat for Cavaliers and most times he reached a half-century he'd go on to triple figures.
In the decade from 2008/09 alone, Venner scored almost 5000 runs at a tick under 50. He scored 10 centuries and had a highest score of 222 not out in that time. Ludicrous numbers over a long period.
That's not all though as he also took 37 wickets one season with his off-spin.
A Western Zone representative and captain of Orange cricket during its greatest period of success this century, Venner was often a divisive figure but you can't argue with his output.
The architect of the greatest batting performance this century? Hard to argue there's been anything better than the performance of the dominant left-hander in the 2001/02 Country Championship Final.
Against a powerhouse Newcastle side and attempting to win a first Country Championships crown, Western were set a target of 306 for victory.
In a match-winning performance, Green hit a faultless 147 and combined with the previously mentioned Nick Berry (98) in a double-century opening partnership.
While there's many who wished he went and tested himself in Sydney after, Green has been happy in Dubbo where he is one of the local association's greatest ever run-scorers.
Green is also one of the great characters of cricket in the bush. One of the best of the many, many stories remains the time Dennis Lillee brought some of the state's most promising fast bowlers to Dubbo for a clinic. The Australian great asked for local batters to come along and Green, who may have enjoyed a few (and a few more) beers the night prior, turned up and proceeded to spank them all over the park.
Word is Lillee asked about 'Greeny' for many years afterwards. That's all you need to know.
One of the key figures in Western's period of unrivalled success in the early 2010s.
After plenty of top performances in Sydney first grade, Cox returned to Dubbo and his relentless performances with the ball for RSL Colts, Dubbo, Western Zone and NSW Country resulted in him being named the best player in the bush in 2015.
Few players had such control over their line and length. Even when Cox battled niggling injuries - which started to occur later in his career - he would get the job done. That was proven in the 2011/12 Country Championships Final when he shrugged off off-season surgery to take 4/24 from 10 overs against Central Coast.
His leadership and off-field organisation also contributed to Western winning three titles in the space of five seasons.
The opening bowler was virtually Mr Western Zone at the start of this century.
One of the true greats of Western cricket, the only reason the Gilgandra quick isn't higher on this list is because much of his career was in the 1990s. He moved to Sydney at the end of the 2005/06 season and did so having achieved almost everything you could in the region.
A fierce opening bowler, Zell had the honour of captaining the first Western Zone side to win a Country Championships title in 2001/02, an achievement he rated as the highlight of his storied career which also included a stint in England as a professional. A lot of that victory was down to his captaincy as he gambled and bowled against a powerful Newcastle side when winning the toss.
He led from the front with three wickets in what remains one of the most famous matches in Western Zone history.
He's just missed number one, but could Pat Rosser be the western area's greatest overall athlete this century?
There wouldn't be many who've represented NSW Country in both cricket and rugby league but the multi-sport threat from Parkes is one of those who's dominated in both the summer and winter seasons.
We're here to talk cricket though and Rosser was a monster with bat in hand and few people could tear an attack apart like the Australian Indigenous representative.
He scored hundreds for fun a lot of the time while he was also a frontline spin option with his left-arm orthodox and he always managed to chime in with a couple of couple of wickets, no matter whether he was playing at home or at the Australian Country Championships (which he appeared at numerous times).
His leadership has also left a huge mark on the game in this region. After playing first grade cricket for St George and lower grades for the Dragons, Rosser returned to the west and, alongside the previously mentioned Tim Cox, brought a professional severely lacking to the Western Zone set-up.
He installed a pre-season camp and it was under his captaincy Western scored a first Country Championships victory in a decade in 2011/12.
In 2015, when he moved away from the region to Cudgeon - where he went on to play at the Country Championships with North Coast - Western coach of the time Matt Crawley said "Pat leaves the game here better than he found it, and that's how you judge a player".
The man for the big occasion and someone all opposition hated playing against.
Love him or hate him, you can't deny Moran's quality as one the greats of Western Zone cricket.
As well as his amazing consistency when it comes to run-scoring, Moran has also produced two of the best knocks played this century.
In the 2014/15 Country Championships final, Moran carried his bat to finish 105 not out as Western chased Newcastle's score of 6-274 in just 42 overs to win a second title in three seasons.
Then, he went one better and produced one of the greatest performances seen in Dubbo cricket in the the 2017/18 RSL Whitney Cup grand final.
In that match, Moran scored an incredible run-a-ball 214 not out against a South Dubbo side loaded with current and former representative stars.
Beaten South Dubbo captain and Moran's NSW Country teammate Mitch Bower admitted it was "something special".
"Even being on the receiving end, it was pretty good to watch," Bower said.
He made centuries at every level from club cricket through to the Australian Country Championships and was also selected in the Australian Country during a decade of dominance in Dubbo.
Reading this on mobile web? Download our news app. It's faster, easier to read and we'll send you alerts for breaking news as it happens. Download in the Apple Store or Google Play.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.