NORTH Nowra-Cambewarra product Kaleb Phillips has played a starring role in helping ACT/NSW Country take out the under 19s National Championships in Adelaide.
The former Nowra High School student guided his side through the pool matches with a 5-1 record, with Country were pitted against NSW rivals Metro for a spot in the grand final.
“As a unit we played well throughout the pool matches, only dropping one game in the last round to Victoria,” Phillips said.
“We were able to get over the line in a few tight games early in the carnival, which helped us through the back end of the schedule.”
In the semi-final, Phillips contributed 0/37 and 14 as Country scored 8/274 in reply to Metro’s 8/273 – Toby Gray hit a boundary on the second last ball of the innings to claim the win.
“Defeating Metro in the semi is up there with one of the best games I’ve been a part of,” Phillips said.
“I thought we bowled well to restrict them to 273. We were doing it tough in periods in the run chase.
“But coming down to 14 of the last over and to get over the line was amazing.”
This win set up a showdown in the decider with Queensland.
“Going into the final, our plans as a team were to bowl first as we had chased all carnival and had success doing so,” Phillips said.
“The final was rain affected, so it got limited to 20 overs a side – we tried to restrict them as much as we could to make it easier for ourselves.
“With the bat, our plans as a team were to take it to the last over and not rush.
“We knew that if we faced the 20 overs, we would win.”
ACT/NSW Country’s plan worked perfectly, with the side scoring 6/133 in reply to Qld’s 7/124 – with five balls to spare.
“Winning the title was probably the best feeling I’ve had on a cricket field,” Phillips said.
“As a team, there were a few tears and overall just a good feeling.”
To make the occasion even more special, Phillips was named player of the match, after claiming 2/18 from his four overs and scoring 36 not out from 29 balls.
“Winning player of the final means a lot to me but we won as a team, with everyone putting in and doing there bit – which is how we played all carnival,” he said.
Phillips was one of five Greater Illawarra Zone players in the ACT/NSW Country side, joined by Blake Nikitaris, Iain Carlisle, Matt Calder and Dom O’Shannessy.
“To win a national title alongside my closest mates that I’ve known for a long time definitely makes it more special,” Phillips said.
“Seeing my mates that I’ve known since a young age grow and develop as cricketers over the years had definitely made winning a national title more satisfying.
“On a personal note, winning this national title is right at the top and something I’ll remember for a long time.”
Phillips, who is currently away in Narrabri with the Greater Illawarra Zone Country Colts team with Berry-Shoalhaven Heads juniors John Ulrick and Cooper Maddinson, will now focus on producing in the Sydney grade competition with the St George Cricket Club.
“I hope to translate some of my form in Adelaide onto strong performances with St George this season,” he said.
“Long term, as I’m eligible to make the ACT/NSW Country side again next year, I’d love the opportunity to represent the team at nationals again.”