It was a match which had everything but in the end no one walked away from No. 1 Oval feeling like a winner.
In one of the most incredible matches seen in country cricket in some time, Dubbo and Bathurst finished as joint premiers in the Western Zone Premier League after a tie in Sunday’s grand final at No.1 Oval.
The contest ebbed and flowed more than most matches in any given season as Bathurst fought back from 9-73 to post 189 while Dubbo gave away an incredible 53 sundries, 38 of those wides, and also dropped a handful of catches late on.
Dubbo didn’t fare much better with the bat early on and was reduced to 6-62 but Ben Patterson, who spent part of the day at hospital after suffering a side injury when opening the bowling, hit the hosts back into the contest.
He finished unbeaten on 71 and his final single to lock the scores up seemed to have Dubbo home but Bathurst youngster Nic Broes bowled Dubbo number 11 Tom Atlee (3) very next ball.
There was some confusion following that as some thought Dubbo won the title as minor premiers but Western Zone and NSW Country Cricket official Neil Doherty and the umpires both confirmed it finished as joint title-holders.
Dubbo captain Mitch Bower and his Bathurst counterpart Jameel Qureshi described the result as “bittersweet” and neither side was celebrating after the match.
“I still feel we’ve been the best side all year but at the end of the day it was a tie in the final so we’ve only got ourselves to blame for not winning it,” Bower said.
“It’s cricket and no one intentionally bowls wides or drop catches and that’s just the way the cookie crumbled today.
“If it’s a tie then I guess joint premiers is fair. Whether or not we’ve been better all year, we both scored the same amount of runs today and that’s what counted.”
There was plenty for the Bathurst side to be proud of after Wayne Sellers (57) and Matt Stephen added a terrific 116 for the final wicket, but Qureshi found the result hard to put into words.
“I don’t really know what to say and I’ve never been involved in a game like that before,” the former Western Zone player said.
“I’m speechless. I don’t know how to feel.
“You realise (after that final wicket) ‘did we win?’ so it was tough.”
While he found the result hard to describe, Qureshi couldn’t say enough about the Sellers-Stephen partnership.
Dubbo quicks Tom Atlee (4-20) and Ben Semmler (3-39) had tore through the visitors’ line up and it seemed certain Bathurst wouldn’t reach triple figures.
But in a mix of determination and power, the Bathurst pair built the total up.
“I said to the boys you want to go back to club cricket and be a player like Wayne Sellers and Matt Stephen. That was tough and something they’ll remember forever,” Qureshi said.
“They’re the types of players you want to play with. It’s not about how good you look playing, it’s when you’ve got your backs against the wall you stand up and that’s what those boys did today.”
The amount of sundries Dubbo gave away was “crazy”, according to Bower, and while he said Bathurst deserved plenty of credit for their comeback, he couldn’t hide his disappointment.
The powerful top order of Brock Larance (1), Jordan Moran (8), Darrel Williams (7), Greg Buckley (16) and Bower (23) did little and it was left to Patterson to salvage the innings.
“It was a pretty ordinary performance, really, from the side we dished up,” Bower said.
“It’s a high-calibre side and we performed well in patches … we made it pretty hard for ourselves.”
Patterson’s innings followed on from centuries on Friday night and Saturday for club side, Rugby.
“He’s in a purple patch, the kid, so he needs to soak it up because they don’t last forever,” Bower said.
“He’s whacking the ball hard and timing it well. It’s unbelievable.”