Considering he scored almost 1000 runs and took more than 40 wickets last summer, was there ever any real doubt Cavaliers’ Josh Doherty would win Orange District Cricket Association’s highest individual honour in 2017-18?
That’s rhetorical, no need to answer.
Doherty was the shortest-priced favourite to claim the cricketer of the year gong since Waratahs’ Ray Doolan, and he did so after a huge summer in which he topped the ODCA’s run-scoring and wicket-taking tallies and was Orange’s leading run-scorer too.
All up, he finished with 936 runs at an average of 42.54 and 41 wickets that came at 17.17 apiece. He scored three tons including a whopping 192 against Centrals in round 12, and claimed best bowling figures of 7-20 against eventual premiers Orange City in round 14.
But, while it would have taken a brave person to bet against the brawny all-rounder, he still didn’t expect to win. In fact it’s a prize he admitted he never though he’d come close to.
“I’m absolutely stoked. Looking back over the last few seasons, I never thought I’d win an award like this. My goals were always just to cement a first grade spot with Cavaliers, then play my role as well as I could,” Doherty said.
“That role’s changed for me with the likes of Richie (Venner) and Stu (Middleton) moving on, but it was always still just about helping the side win because you don’t play sport to win awards, or for personal accolades.
“Don’t get me wrong though, it does feel great to be rewarded for my hard work and have my name up there alongside some of Orange’s best, like Richie, who I’ve always looked up to, Craig Evers, Ray Doolan, Frank Weymouth, all those guys.”
Doherty did admit that he knew he’d be in the mix for the award, especially after inspiring his side to a somewhat unlikely grand final berth, but said he was still tipping Western Zone quick Jackson Coote to win the prize for a second time.
“I didn’t really give it a thought until the end of the season, and knowing representative cricket plays a big role I thought Coota had it, or even someone like Taylor Beatty or Ed Morrish, those guys had really great seasons as well,” Doherty said.
“It’s funny, [the Central Western Daily] actually wrote something that said Cavaliers would struggle if [Matt Corben] and I both failed at the same time, which was bound to happen. We had a bit of a laugh and sort of thought ‘let’s make sure that doesn’t’ and I don’t think it did really, we had a lot of class young guys step up too.
“Corbs deserves a special mention, his leadership of a young side was brilliant and to get us to a grand final was huge, he had a really solid season himself. Having him around takes some pressure off me too.”
Doherty spoke from England, he’s in the Old Dart playing for Bilton Cricket Club in north Yorkshire and wasn’t able to collect his prizes at the ODCA’s presentation night – he also won the top grade’s best and fairest gong.
“It’s going well over here,” Doherty said, admitting he’s taken some time to get used to the conditions.
“It’s been a steady start but the pitches, the weather, the balls, it’s all very different so it is taking a bit of time but I’m confident I can hit my straps soon enough.”
Doherty will return to Orange at the end of his stint in England, although he’s not 100 per cent on where he’ll go from there.
“I’ll be back in Orange in October and I’ll take it from there I think,” he said.
“It’s no secret I’d love to move away and play, but in saying that we’ve got a really good thing going at Cavaliers and the next few years will be really exciting I think.
“Personally, I’d really love to try and win a Western Zone cap as well. I know how tough that team is to break into because there’s so many good cricketers around so I guess all I can do is keep playing good cricket and hope I get noticed, but it’s something I’d really love to do, represent the region.”