The 2018/19 season yet again highlighted the excellence and continuous development of Country cricket in NSW with several outstanding achievements at a team and individual level.

Award winners and champion teams were acknowledged at a meeting of NSW Country Cricket officials at the offices of Cricket NSW, Moore Park, on Monday.

Breakers opening batter Tahlia Wilson and hard-hitting Northern Rivers allrounder Caleb Ziebell were the Female and Male Country Players of the Year.

Ziebell, who hails from Cudgen just south of Tweed Heads, Far North NSW, was crucial to the T20 title defence of the Bush Blues at the Toyota Australian Country Championships during January.

He was named Player of the Tournament scoring 227 runs at an average a tick over 32, across both the Twenty20 and limited-overs formats, including 125 T20 runs at 41.67.

Like last season, the Bush Blues remained undefeated throughout the T20 matches.

Veteran Newcastle cricketer Simon Moore was also inducted into the Australian Country Cricket Hall of Fame at the conclusion of those championships.

ACT/NSW Country claimed the Male Under 19 national title for the first time as a combined region and shared the Under 17 crown with Queensland due to rain preventing the completion of the final.

The Female underage teams made every final of the Under 15 and 18 National Championships in 2018/19 but could not quite clinch victory in either age division.    

NSW Country Committee Chairman Paul Marjoribanks said participation numbers remained strong throughout the regions and country cricket continued to be an important pathway for the Blues and Breakers.

“We’ve added T20 cricket and a lot of extra days to our carnivals, so we now offer a wide variety of cricket,” Mr Marjoribanks said.

“Next season we’re looking to enhance the female program with a new age group and maybe a division for open age players as well.”

Three regional players made their debut for NSW last season. Wilson, 19, debuted for the Breakers in November, while teenager Jason Sangha and left-arm quick from the Hunter, Greg West, both received their maiden Baggy Blue caps in the Sheffield Shield.

Ziebell was presented the Josh Hazlewood Medal as Male Player of the Year, by the Blues and Australian right-arm quick at the 17th Cricket NSW Annual Awards Dinner in April. It was the first time he had received the honour.

Wilson likewise received the Alex Blackwell Medal for the first time, from the Breakers great herself, at the Cricket NSW Awards.

The Greater Illawarra wicketkeeper-batter was also named McDonald’s Women’s Premier Cricket Player of the Year.

She amassed a career best 471 runs at 235.5 for St George-Sutherland in the limited-overs Premier Cricket competition including three centuries.

Wilson, Breakers team mate Rachel Trenaman and Orange top order batter Phoebe Litchfield, then 15, were all selected in the Female Australian Under 19 team to tour New Zealand in March.

Trenaman captained the side and the Riverina leg-spinning allrounder was the NSW Country Player of the Year for 2017/18.

Greater Illawarra fast bowler Iain Carlisle, who has since gained a rookie contract with Tasmania, was selected in the Male National Under 19 squad that toured Sri Lanka in January. 

Ziebell was one of three NSW players to be named in the Male and Female Australian Country Merit Teams at the conclusion of the national championships in Shepparton.

He joined fast bowling allrounder Ben Patterson in the Male Merit XII. Top order batter from the North Coast, Naomi McDonald, was named in the female merit team.

For the second successive year, McDonald was named the Best Female Player for the Bush Breakers at the Australian Country Championships courtesy of 210 runs at 42.

Last week in his home town of Dubbo, Patterson was presented with his award for the Best Male Player for NSW at the Country Championships.

The right-arm quick claimed 10 wickets at 22.6 and plundered 189 runs from eight visits to the crease across both formats. He had the best strike rate of any batsman in the competition striking at 124.3.   

Alongside fellow Dubbo allrounder, 17-year-old off-spinner Brock Larance, Patterson also represented his culture last June. Both young men were selected in the Male Indigenous squad that toured the United Kingdom to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 1868 Pioneers tour.

The 1868 Pioneers were an indigenous cricket team that became the first Australian sporting team to tour overseas.

During the Australian Country Championships, Bush Blues captain and wicketkeeper Tom Groth passed Simon Moore as the most capped NSW Country player. 

Groth now has 78 caps passing the 71 matches that Moore played.

The Central Coast dominated across the male competitions.

“Central Coast won four of the five Male competitions contested,” said Marjoribanks.

It claimed the Hogg Silver Shield as Zone Champions for the second season running.

Central Coast Rush won their first Plan B Regional Bash title in February with a 24-run win over the ACT Aces under the lights of the SCG.

The region also claimed the McDonald’s Country Colts, Under 16 Bradman Cup and Under 14 Kookaburra Cup.

Western zone umpire Graeme Glazebrook was named Country Umpire of the Year for the fourth consecutive season. 

Glazebrook was also a finalist at the 2019 Cricket Australia ‘A Sport for All’ Awards nominated for the Community Umpire of the Year Award.

2018/19 NSW Country Cricket Awards Winners

Male Country Player of the Year –

Caleb Ziebell (North Coastal)

Female Country Player of the Year –

Tahlia Wilson (Greater Illawarra)

Best Male Player at Toyota Australian Country Championships –

Ben Patterson (Western)

Best Female Player at Toyota Australian Country Championships –

Naomi McDonald (North Coastal) – second year in a row

Australian Country Merit Team Players –

Caleb Ziebell, Ben Patterson and Naomi McDonald

Best Fielder Awards at Toyota Australian Country Championships –

Chris Archer (Central Coast) and Kate Jackson (North Coastal)

Inductee Australian Country Cricket Hall of Fame –

Simon Moore (Newcastle)

Most Capped NSW Country Player –

Tom Groth (Central Northern) passed Simon Moore at the Toyota Australian Country Championships in Shepparton

Kookaburra Youth Cricketer of the Year –

Toby Gray (Newcastle)

NSW Country Umpire of the Year –

Graeme Glazebrook (Western) – fourth year in a row

NSW Country Coach of the Year –

Glenn Rowlands (Central Coast) – fourth-time winners

NSW Country Groundsman of the Year –

Eric Higgins (Varley Oval, Inverell)

NSW Country Media Award –

South Coast Register (Greater Illawarra) – Damian McGill and Courtney Ward

Zone Championship winner (Hogg Silver Shield) –

Central Coast – second year in a row

ACT Southern Districts won two competitions in their first year as a Zone – Under 15 McDonald’s Female Country Champs and McDonald’s Country Championships (Male).

Brock Larance (Western) and Caelan Maladay (North Coastal) on their selection for the Cricket Australia XI for the Under 19 Male National Championships.

Iain Carlisle (Greater Illawarra) for his selection in the Australian Under 19 side to tour Sri Lanka.

Rachel Trenaman (Riverina) and Tahlia Wilson (Greater Illawarra) on their selection in the Australian Under 19 side. Trenaman captained that side.

Men’s Australian Country XII

Ben Boyd (VIC)

Cameron Brimblecombe (QLD)

Aaron Burrage (WA)

Tony Caccaviello (VIC)

Nathan Crudeli (WA)

Zane Marwick (WA)

Matthew McInerney (SA)

Jordan Moran (VIC)

Ben Patterson (NSW)

Lee Stockdale (VIC)

Cameron Williams (VIC)

Caleb Ziebell (NSW)

Women’s Australian Country XII

Kara Churchland (NT)

Amy Edgar (WA)

Emma Faint (SA)

Cara Fiebig (SA)

Emma Gallagher (VIC)

Emma Lynch (VIC)

Naomi McDonald (NSW)

Chelsea Moscript (VIC)

Lexi Muller (QLD)

Janelle Phillips (WA)

Brenda Tau (EAP)

Amy Yates (VIC)