The Cricket NSW State Challenge couldn’t have begun much better for Canowindra junior Mikey McNamara and the Country Thunder Riverina/Western under 14s side.
Riverina/Western edged out City Sixers North by four runs in an opening day thriller at Lady Cutler 1 and while the result in itself was fantastic, coach Greg McLay was delighted by the manner of the win.
McLay’s side posted 132 in a match which started at 8.30am in order to try and avoid some of the heat.
Dubbo young gun Tom Coady top-scored with 33 while three other players made more than 20.
While it wasn’t the most imposing total, all the Thunder bowlers, particularly the spinners, did a job and the effort in the field was even better than what’s expected at such a high level tournament.
The pressure remained on right through the innings and the Sixers North outfit finished at 8/128 from its 40 overs.
“The boys were very good under pressure and I thought our last 10 overs were excellent,” McLay said.
Orange-based George Cumming was one of those spinners who stood out and he finished with 3/20 from six overs while Albury’s Praveen Pathmanathan took 3/24 from eight.
Coady and Cumming are part of a strong Western Zone core, which also features Dubbo’s Koda Sissian, Paddy Nelson and Hugh Ridley as well as Harrison Bayliss of Parkes, Canowindra’s Mikey McNamara and Bathurst-based Tom Lynch.
Sissian had earlier made 22 opening the batting while Nelson finished 22 not out against a Sixers North outfit led by talented off-spinner Spencer White (4/23). McLay was happy enough with that total on a wicket which “had a little in it” and the Riverina/Western bowlers then made runs hard to come by.
The spinners struck at regular intervals and then towards the end of the match, Albury gun Euriah Holland took a terrific catch then executed a runout to get his side right on top. In a tense ending, it was the Riverina/Western players who held their nerve and the result filled the players and coach with plenty of confidence.
“There’s some good players in this team. The Western boys, Tom Coady is probably leads our batting and Mikey McNamara was excellent behind the stumps today and Harrison Bayliss is a good leader and then of the Riverina boys, Mile Hemann-Peterson is an exceptional talent and plays first grade against the men in Albury so that’s no mean feat and Euriah Hollard is a talent as well.”
The Country Thunder Riverina/Western under 13s side also played in a close-fought match but just fell short.
After posting 9/91 from the 40 overs, the 13s outfit saw City Sixers North reach the target with two wickets in hand.
On Tuesday, the Country Thunder under 14s side edged out Country Sixers Central Coast/Newcastle by 26 runs. McNamara missed out in the runs, however played a crucial role in his side’s successful defence picking up three run out assists, helping the Thunder restrict Sixers to 106.
On Wednesday, McNamara’s Thunder outfit take on City Thunder West and Country Sixers Northern in back-to-back Twenty20s, before the finals on Thursday.