It was already becoming a thing for his Centennials teammates but now the nickname ‘MVP’ will definitely stick to Ryan Gurney after he produced a man-of-the-match effort in his side’s Royal Hotel Cup decider win, helping him clinch a second consecutive Carl Sharpe Medal.
Gurney, who claimed the player-of-the-tournament gong in Lithgow’s win last year, shared the 2017-18 award with the Bulls’ marquee player in Mick Curtale, Friday night’s final ultimately becoming the deciding factor.
Curtale held a three-point lead over his Bulls teammates leading into the grand final and while he picked up zero best and fairest points, for his four-wicket effort Gurney picked up three to draw level.
“Mate, this is great, it’s just unreal. I wish I’d come to play in this competition a long time ago,” Gurney laughed.
“I didn’t think I was even close to winning it this year, not with guys like Mick or (Lithgow skipper) Benny Sheehan and even the likes of Josh Toole and a few others running around.
“I had a slow start, there was a bit of pressure there actually after that, but it’s nice to get another one.”
Gurney finished the tournament with 132 runs at an average of 22.00 but, as Curtale said, it was his bowling that pushed him over the line this season.
The former Lithgow star finished as the competition’s second-leading wicket-taker with 10 scalps at an average of 8.70, a strike rate of 9.00 and an economy rate of just 5.80 – outstanding numbers, by anyone’s standards.
Curtale pumped out 168 runs at 28.00 to finish behind Sheehan (208 at 52.00) and Toole (171 at 34.20) on the run-scoring list, taking five wickets at 27.80 as well.
“It’s Ryan’s award,” Curtale said.
“He was our best player through this tournament by a mile, he deserves it after some of his efforts.
“You know, he’s probably not what you’d call the best bowler but he took wickets when it mattered and the 50-odd he made in the semi-final was unbelievable.
“I was at the other end, it was incredible to watch, he’s your winner.”
“I’ve never really been known for my bowling over the years, but (Centennials skipper) Andrew Brown was looking for a bowler one Saturday and they came out alright,” Gurney laughed.
“I don’t know, I think they find it hard to hit me because I’m too slow for them.”
In terms of the final itself, Gurney said he was over the moon to be named man-of-the-match but pushed praise onto teammate Dallas Tilley, who’s unbeaten 38 swung momentum back to the Bulls and pushed the side above 150.
“You know, it’s all well and good for guys like Tooley, Mick and I to hit it around at the top, but when we get in a bit of trouble you need the guys like him and Nick Bird lower down,” Gurney said.
“It’s see ball-hit ball with Dal, but he was phenomenal all series and it’s those kind of efforts that really get you over the line in the end, those 20 or 30 not outs off not many balls.”
Gurney confirmed he’ll stay with Centennials if given the chance next season too, also saying he’d love to see the club attempt to defend its title.
“Definitely, I’d love to stay here,” he said.
“The boys were all so welcoming when myself, Dal and a few other Lithgow boys came over and we’re all pretty close, it’s a great bunch of guys to play cricket with.
“Hopefully we can come back next year and do it all again.”