BATHURST and Dubbo played out one of the strangest yet most enthralling representative cricket matches of recent times in last year’s Western Zone Premier League (WZPL) grand final tie.
If spectators get a match half as entertaining as that final in this Sunday’s opening round of the new season then they’ll be in for a great time.
The Bathurst District Cricket Association side goes into the grand final rematch at The Scots School with their core playing group largely intact. Eight players from that team are back for round one.
The hosts will be hoping to avoid last year’s opening round loss to Dubbo and get their campaign up and running on a more positive note.
Jameel Qureshi returns to skipper the side with St Pat’s Old Boys captain Adam Ryan named as his deputy.
Josh Toole is sitting out this season of cricket, leaving a big all-rounder hole to fill in the team, while Wayne Sellers’ absence this game takes away some batting firepower.
A big gain for the Bathurst squad this year is strike bowler and recent Under 17s NSW representative inclusion Tanvir Singh who has come across from the Lithgow association.
Singh’s fellow Under 17s National Championships-bound teammate Ben Mitchell will also look to leave his mark on the Bathurst side.
“It’s probably going to be the first hit for a lot of guys on Saturday [in regular BDCA games]. We’ve got to be ready because we’ve had a habit of being slow starters,” Qureshi said.
“I think it will be interesting to see where we’re at. It’s good having a few of the young guys in there and playing some higher level cricket.
“Ryano’s come into the side and he’s been a part of the squad for a while. I’m looking forward to having Tan in the side as well and building up a relationship with him.”
Bathurst came up a run short of defending their WZPL title when both they and the Dubbo batting lineups saved up some of their worst performances of the season for when they didn’t need it.
Individual brilliance from Bathurst’s Wayne Sellers (57) and Matt Stephen (42) got their team to 189 all out, as Dubbo’s Tom Atlee (4-20) did the damage.
Dubbo’s 53 extras allowed Bathurst to post a competitive total.
An unbeaten 71 from Dubbo’s Ben Patterson helped his side draw level in the face of a strong Bathurst attack.
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Atlee’s dismissal at the hands of Nic Broes – who features again in this season’s Bathurst squad – left Dubbo stranded on 189.
“I don’t know what to expect from Dubbo this year,” Qureshi said.
“We’ve just got to concentrate on what we’re doing and go from there.”