What started so promisingly ended in a familiar way, as Central North’s bid for an allusive Country Championship ended in another failure.
But Central North captain Tom Groth, a veteran of Country Championship campaigns, said the pride in wearing the team cap had returned.
He said: “You know, we’re trying to get a bit of pride back into the cap, and I think we’ve done that. I think everyone contributed. All the new guys stepped up.”
A 23-run loss to Western at Varley Oval in Inverell on Sunday, on the final day of the southern-pool carnival, sealed Central North’s fate.
Central North had started the carnival, on Friday, with a 16-run defeat of Central Coast, before suffering a 10-wicket loss to North Coast on Saturday.
They went into Sunday’s clash believing they could still top the pool, and advance to the final against the winner of the northern pool, if they won the clash, secured the bonus point and Sunday’s result between Central Coast and North Coast went their way.
But after a promising start chasing 232, wickets fell too regularly as Central North kept the foot down in search of the win and the bonus point (by getting the runs in under 30 overs), with the end coming on 209 in 32 overs.
Groth summed up the side’s overall showing thus: “We batted really well; we probably won four out of the six sessions. So I think it’s a real positive as far as being a stepping stone.”
He added: “I think there’s a bit of a positive feel about the way we played.”
Michael Rixon (3-14 off six overs) and Nick Smart (3-41 off 9.2 overs) led the way with the ball, while opener Simon Norvill got the side off to a flyer with a 31-ball 51. Smart (31) and Groth (29) helped make the run chase interesting.
Central Coast won the carnival.