Central Coast win McDonalds Country Championships despite great start by Central North

A fabulous three days of regional cricket in Inverell may not have resulted in a win for the Central North team, but the team made a great effort at the McDonalds Country Championships of NSW Country Cricket at Varley Oval and McCosker. 

Central North players made a promising start to the carnival on Friday with a 16-4 run defeat of the carnival’s winners from the Central Coast.

Moree teenager Jack Montgomery and Armidale teen Jackson Gwynne, playing their first Country Championships, did most of the damage on that day – taking 3-33 off nines overs and 3-38 off 10 overs, respectively.

But it was downhill from there with the local team going on to suffer a 10-wicket loss to North Coast on Saturday.

It was a 23-run loss to Western at Varley Oval in Inverell on Sunday, on the final day of the carnival, that sealed the team’s fate. 

But all was not lost. Central North captain Tom Groth, a veteran of Country Championship campaigns, told Fairfax Media that pride in wearing the team cap had returned.

He said: “You know, we’re trying to get a bit of pride back into the cap, and I think we’ve done that. I think everyone contributed. All the new guys stepped up.”

They went into Sunday’s clash believing they could still top the pool, and advance to the final against the winner of the northern pool.

But after a promising start chasing 232, wickets fell too regularly as Central North kept the foot down in search of the win and the bonus point (by getting the runs in under 30 overs), with the end coming on 209 in 32 overs.

​Michael Rixon (3-14 off six overs) and Nick Smart (3-41 off 9.2 overs) led the way with the ball, while opener Simon Norvill got the side off to a flyer with a 31-ball 51. Smart (31) and Groth (29) helped make the run chase interesting.

Central Coast finished as the winner of the carnival despite their loss on day one. They 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.