By Richard Millott
A return to the Ferntree Gully and District Cricket Association has worked wonders for Lysterfield’s Nathan Walsh.
Walsh was a key part of the champion Victorian Country squad at the Toyota Australian Country Cricket Championships held in Toowoomba from 3-11 January.
Walsh was named as an important batting inclusion in the Victorian squad for this year’s Championships, as Victoria looked to improve on last year’s runner-up placing.
The Beavers’ skipper took charge from the outset with a 54-ball 69 in the opening T20 against Western Australia, before plundering Queensland for 42 in the Round 2 match later that afternoon.
Another quick half century – this time in 36 balls – welcomed the ACT back into the competition before Walsh was 38 not out at the end of Victoria’s nine-wicket win over South Australia to conclude the T20 matches.
A new day did not stop Walsh from his third half century, scoring 64 from 43 balls against New South Wales on Sunday morning, however current champions WA brought about the undoing of Victoria’s top order in the longer format on Monday – Victoria falling short by 43 runs.
Walsh was back to form on Tuesday against QLD, scoring 47 in the win.
A “lean” patch followed, scoring 11 against the ACT for Round 8 and 10 against SA – both matches Victoria won through collective team efforts.
Victoria confirmed its place in the decider with victory against NSW, with Walsh (68) scoring his fourth half century.
The final at Heritage Oval was a rematch of last year’s decider against WA, as Victoria took first use of the pitch.
Walsh played his part in setting up Victoria in the middle order, batting for over an hour for a hard-fought 17.
By that stage, the middle order was well entrenched at the crease and batted through to post 194 for a target.
In reply, WA was in early trouble losing two wickets in as many balls to be 2/5.
A monsoonal downpour threatened to ruin the end of a classic, however, when play resumed Victoria only required three overs to wrap things up, claiming the final three wickets to dismiss WA for 145 and lift the title.
Walsh’s campaign was one of complete dominance with the bat, scoring 422 runs across 11 matches at an average of 42.20, including 4 half centuries.
It was on the back of this performance that Walsh was named in the Australian Country XI, becoming the first FTGDCA player since Simon Reeves in 1998 to be named multiple times in an Australian Country XI.
The honour repeats Walsh’s efforts from the 2016 edition, where he was selected in the Australian Country XI in a campaign that saw him claim the Don Bradman Batting Award.
adman Batting Award.