SHOALHAVEN Ex-Servicemens’ Nate Jones and his New South Wales side have successfully defended their Imparja Cup title, defeating Queensland in Monday’s final.
Playing for his state at the National Indigenous Cricket Championships (NICC) for a second time in as many years, Jones and the NSW side didn’t loss a game on the way to the final, defeating Victoria, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania in their pool matches – before edging the latter in the semi-final.
“[During the week] I think collectively we all gelled together really well considering the change of captaincy this year,” Jones said.
“Even so, we all tried to challenge ourselves.”
Seven straight wins pitted Jones’ NSW side against northern foes Queensland in the final in Alice Springs.
“We were confident that we were the best side but we were also nervous because Queensland were the only side that had come close to us throughout the carnival,” he said.
“I think we just had to stick to the plans we had made all week and not change anything.”
In the decider, Queensland won the toss and elected to bat first, posting 9/105 from their 20 overs – with Jones claiming 2/24 from his four overs.
In reply, NSW reached the target (2/106) in the 15th over, to secure victory.
“I was absolutely thrilled that I got to be a part of such a talented team and great blokes and the fact that we got to share back-to-back titles undefeated was just unreal,” Jones said.
“Compared to last year, it was a little different because all the games were T20s, so every game really could’ve been anyone’s.
“But we really tried to just stick to our goals which drove us to win each game.”
During the tournament, Jones had the unique experience of playing against three other Shoalhaven products, Bomaderry’s Zac and Kealen Blattner as well as club mate Brandon Booth – who were all playing for South Australia.
“It was great seeing those boys being where they deserve to be,” he said.
“And playing against Brandon [Booth] who I’ve played with since I was 10 and then be able to go and have a beer with him after the game, was a great feeling.”
“As always, playing for my mob and my family is something I hold very close to me,” he said.
“It’s the reason I keep coming back every year even for club and just drives me to want to better myself.”
During the tournament, which ran from February 3-11, Jones finished with eight wickets, at an average of 11.5.