Kieran Gray does NSW proud

NSW's Kieran Gray
NSW's Kieran Gray

FOR all the final day’s tantalising, big-hitting, bonus point possible scenarios, it ended in simple and methodical fashion.

Queensland, chasing South Australia’s 9-144 at North Dalton Park, cruised to victory with six wickets and 11.1 overs in hand.

Across town at Keira Oval, NSW had flirted with the idea of mowing down East Asia Pacific’s total of 160 in quick enough time to earn two bonus points and throw the pressure back on the Queenslanders by virtue of superior net run rate.

NSW, which contained Berry-Shoalhaven Head’s Kieran Gray, were two points in arrears after losing to Queensland on Tuesday.

But even then, the Brahman Bulls were ready to lift a gear, if they needed, in search of their own extra point and put the national title out of their reach.

As it was, the pressure was off, when NSW took 36.1 overs to overpower the Asia-Pacific representative team, Jon Nicoll finishing unbeaten on 55, Pat Darwen 40 not out. 

The final hour at Dalton Park became a slow-burning celebration towards claiming Queensland’s third Australian Country Championships crown in seven years.

NSW's Kieran Gray

NSW's Kieran Gray

“We’ve been in a very good spot the whole carnival,” Queensland captain Tony Hampson said, the shield under his arm. 

“We won four of the five T20’s and now we’ve won four out of five in the one-dayers, but we had a slip-up against the Victorians which meant we had to win and NSW were breathing down our neck.” 

Opener Harry Winton led the Queensland charge with one 10 over spell of 1-19, before spinner Michael Salerno snared 4-23 to put them on top. 

Hampson made 39 at No.3 in reply, but it was Sean Danaher who ensured Queensland were in control with the bat, scoring 64 off 103 balls. 

On Tuesday, Queensland tore through the NSW top order to reduce the Bush Blues to 4-7, before a Darwen ton offered something to defend at 8-178. 

But Queensland reeled in the score with three overs to spare, paving the way for Wednesday’s tournament triumph.

“Our fielding and bowling has been outstanding the whole carnival, we’ve really led from the front and the boys stood tall again (on Wednesday),” Hampson said.

“We had to pull some sore bodies through another 50 overs, but they’ve been really impressive.”

Meanwhile, captain Pauka Siaka (41) and Norma Ovasuru (42) shared a 98-run stand to lead  East Asia Pacific to a thumping eight-wicket win over Victoria at Uni Oval, with three overs to spare.

  • AUSTRALIAN COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS

Champions: Queensland

Runners-up: NSW

One-day winners: NSW

Twenty20 winners: Queensland

Women’s Twenty20 champions: East Asia Pacific