The promising talent of Country cricket in New South Wales was proven last Sunday at Raby Sports Complex as the rural and regional teams claimed the honours in the annual Under 14 and Under 16 boys City-Country Challenge matches highlighted by a marvellous ton to Cooper Brien.
Brien scored 124 from 129 balls for Kookaburra Cup winners Western, as it defeated current holders of the Harold Moore Shield, North Shore, by 107 runs in the Under 14 fixture.
Reigning Bradman Cup champions Central Coast enjoyed a comprehensive six-wicket victory over AW Green Shield premiers Parramatta in the Under 16 match.
Brien almost single-handedly carried his team to a first innings total of 8/220 from their allotted 50 overs. His century comprised eight fours and one six. The innings earned him player of the match honours.
The closest any other Western batsman came to his effort were Declan Fawkner (26) and Mikey McNamara (36 not out).
Deshan Malalage (2-36) and William Shortis (2-39) both collected two wickets for North Shore.
It set up an emphatic win for the Kookaburra Cup champions as North Shore was bowled out for just 113.
Shortis (35) was strong again with the bat, but by the time he had made it to the crease at No. 9 the match was a lost cause and North Shore was 7-50.
It was a complete bowling performance by Western. Jacob Ryan (3-18) and Mac Webster (3-23) were terrific for the Country side. George Cumming was also miserly in his 10 overs. He conceded less than a run per over and claimed 2-9.
In the Under 16 match, Parramatta batted first and was bowled out for a competitive 161. Captain Harrison King made 65 from 100 balls and was by far the best of the batsman for the City side.
Gifted all-rounder Broc Hardy (3-21) was the most impressive of the Central Coast attack. His three wickets were complemented by good returns from several other bowlers including Lachlan Cork (2-28).
In response, the 2017-18 Bradman Cup winners had very little trouble passing the Parramatta total.
Hardy (50) capped off an outstanding performance which saw him named player of the match. He made his half century from 102 balls at the top of the order. Central Coast captain Joseph Liddle (47) and Kaleb Daley (44 not out) both fell narrowly short of half-centuries themselves, as the victory was secured with more than seven overs to spare.
Parramatta’s Aneesh Kaul (2-16) picked up two of the four wickets to fall in the chase.