On a dramatic last day of the Toyota Australian Country Championships, New South Wales Country have snatched the title when such a victory seemed unlikely.
The Bush Blues headed into the final day requiring a double bonus-point win and results in other matches to go their way to be a chance.
After decimating South Australia for 95 there was hope the impossible might just be possible. Joe Price was the best of the bowlers. He claimed 3-12 from his 8 overs. Scott Burkinshaw (3-18) and Cameron Suidgeest (3-25) also shared in the wickets.
Suidegeest finished leading wicket-taker for the championships with 20 wickets at an average of 10.4. His best figures were 4-14. Joe Price was second on that list. He collected 18 wickets at 11.5.
Tom Groth also took three catches behind the stumps to finish the tournament as the leading wicketkeeper. He had 16 dismissals to his name, including 13 catches and three stumpings.
The first part of the assignment was then complete when the Bush Blues chased down the small target with six wickets in hand and within 20.1 overs, which ensured the double bonus-point win. Jordan Moran top-scored with 45 from 44 balls.
Despite the fact he only made 15 from 18 balls, Caleb Ziebell, compiled 395 runs during the tournament at 43.89 to be the leading run-scorer for the championships. His highest score of 110 not out came against Queensland Country in the T20 Final.
New South Wales Country then needed everything to fall into place to become champions.
This required Queensland Country to defeat Victoria Country and Western Australia Country to overcome East Asia Pacific.
A thumping 75 run win to Western Australia meant that it was up to Queensland to stop Victoria from taking the title.
While it got somewhat close, Queensland Country comfortably chased down the 264 set for victory. The Northerners reached the target at the end of the 49th over and won by eight wickets to do their cross-border rivals the ultimate favour.
Queensland captain and opening batsman James Spargo made 134 not out to guide his team home.
The Bush Blues tied with Victoria Country on 22 points and took the crown on net run rate by 0.112.
New South Wales Country went one better than last year after it ran second to Queensland Country.
The Bush Blues had four players named in the All Australian Men’s Country Cricket team, including Tom Groth, Suidgeest, Price and Ziebell.
Meantime, the New South Wales Country Women's team, the Bush Breakers, lost to South Australia in the semi-final by just eight runs.
In response to 5/118 posted by the South Australians, New South Wales fell narrowly short at 6/110. Nell Gibson returned best figures with the ball claiming 1-10. Beck Cady scored 31 and top-scored for the Bush Breakers.
Two players from the Bush Breakers’ squad were named in the All Australian Women’s Country Cricket team, including Beck Cady and Naomi McDonald.