VICS DO IT BETTER, GULLY DOES IT BEST:
WALSH IN AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY XI AS VICS CHAMPIONS
By Richard Millott
A return to the FTGDCA has worked wonders for Lysterfield’s Nathan Walsh as a key part of the champion Victorian Country squad at last week’s Toyota Australian Country Cricket Championships held in Toowoomba.
Walsh was named as a key batting inclusion in the Victorian squad for the 2020 edition of the Championships, as Victoria sought to improve on it’s runner-up placing at the 2019 edition in Shepparton.
The Beavers’ skipper took charge from the outset with a 54-ball 69 in the opening T20 against Western Australia, before plundering Queensland for 42 in the Round 2 match later that afternoon. Another quick half century – this time in 36 balls – welcomed the ACT back into the competition before Walsh was 38 not out at the end of Victoria’s 9-wicket win over South Australia to conclude the T20 matches.
A new day did not stop Walsh from his third half century, scoring 64 from 43 balls against New South Wales on Sunday morning, however current Champions Western Australia brought about the undoing of Victoria’s top order in the longer format on Monday – Victoria falling short by 43 runs.
Walsh was back to form on Tuesday against Queensland, scoring 47 in the win. A “lean” patch followed, scoring 11 against the ACT for Round 8 and 10 against South Australia – both matches Victoria won through collective team efforts. Victoria confirmed it’s place in the decider with victory against New South Wales, with Walsh scoring his fourth half-century with 68.
The Final at Heritage Oval was a rematch of the 2019 decider against Western Australia, as Victoria took first use of the pitch. An early tussle between bat and ball ensued between the respective openers, with Walsh at the crease at 2/38. Walsh played his part in setting up Victoria in the middle order, batting for over an hour for a hard-fought 17. By that stage, the middle order were well entrenched at the crease and batted through to post 194 for a target. In reply, Western Australia were in early trouble losing 2 wickets in as many balls to be 2/5 before Victoria slowed the match to their pace as the current Champions could not find a way to score. A monsoonal downpour threatened to ruin the end of a classic, however when play resumed Victoria only required 3 overs to wrap up the Championship, claiming the final 3 wickets to dismiss WA for 145 to lift the title.
Walsh’s campaign was one of complete dominance with the bat, scoring 422 runs across 11 matches at an average of 42.20, including 4 half centuries. It was on the back of this performance that Walsh was named in the Australian Country XI, becoming the first FTGDCA player since Simon Reeves in 1998 to be named multiple times in an Australian Country XI.
The honour repeats Walsh’s efforts from the 2016 edition, where he was selected in the Australian Country XI in a campaign that saw him claim the Don Bradman Batting Award.