The faces may have changed but the desire and determination has clearly not.
Western Zone showed just why they’ve become a powerhouse of bush cricket on Friday when rallying from an unenviable position to down North Coastal in a thrilling opening match of the 2018/19 Country Championships northern pool carnival.
It was some of the newcomers who stood up for Western, with Australian junior representative Brock Larance showing why he’s so highly touted, while Tom Atlee also did a fine job with bat and ball on his senior Zone debut.
Larance top-scored for Western with a quickfire 64 and while Ben Patterson chimed in with 47, no other player made a meaningful contribution in the slightly disappointing total of 2015.
That final score could have been even lower had it not been for a vital 30-run final wicket stand between Dubbo teen Atlee (19) and experienced Bathurst campaigner Matt Stephen (7).
North Coast made a flying start to the run chase, going at 10 over at one point early on.
Justin Moore was tearing the Western attack apart but Jackson Coote (1-13) knocked him over for a rapid 41 off 22.
While the run-rate slowed the side from the state’s north kept things ticking over as Western struggled to take wickets consistently.
At 3-166 North Coast was in total control but slowly but surely the game began the turn.
Tearaway quick Atlee, entering the attack late, on made an immediate impact and claimed the vital wicket of Alec Baldwin (43).
Ben Patterson (2-37) returned to the attack and grabbed a pair of poles but captain Mitch Bower opted to go with the off-spin of Larance at the other end.
It was a bold move but one that paid off in a massive way as the CYMS Cougars teenager claimed the final two wickets to spark Western celebrations.
Larance finished with 2-14 from 4.5 overs as North Coast fell 12 runs short, being bowled out for 203.
It was a tough day for Bathurst’s three representatives.
Stephen had an important late stand with the bat but went 0-30 from his three overs as opening bowler.
Nic Broes made a promising start as opening batsman, scoring at a 100 strike rate before being cleaned bowled on 15.
Ben Mitchell wasn’t thrown the ball and his time at the crease lasted just seven deliveries, where he was dismissed for two.
The other match in the group saw Central North defeat Central Coast by a close 16-run margin.
Western takes on Central Coast on Saturday.