In October, former Goulburn batsman Josh Watling took part in the first three rounds of the Regional Bash tournament.
A tournament that is modelled on the Big Bash, the Regional Bash is touted for regional towns and areas throughout NSW. This is the second year running that Watling has played in the competition.
Last year’s competition was a quiet one for Watling, as the ACT Aces only played one match (in which he did not bat) and didn’t make it through the group stages.
The 2018/19 edition, however, is proving to be an entirely different story for the ACT side. They have won all three of their group matches and thus lined up a semi-final berth against the Central West Wranglers for February 17.
Watling, although batting at number eight, has made a critically important contribution to the ACT’s hopes, when he scored a hard-fought 33 not out while chasing a total of 99 against the Border Bullets in round two, which secured victory in a match which was dominated by the ACT’s bowlers, who have had a strong tournament overall.
Despite the ACT’s relative dominance so far in the tournament, it will have its work cut out in the semi-final.
The Central West side has only played two matches as opposed to the ACT’s three, however it also has yet to score less than 166 runs, while the Aces’ matches have been far more low-scoring by comparison.
This could be a result of the ACT’s strong bowling attack, and the fact that it has bowled first in two of its’ three matches while the Wranglers have batted first in both of theirs, but either way the Aces will need their batting unit to be switched on if they are to have a chance of progressing through to the grand final later on the same day.
The 2018/19 Regional Bash has been a scintillating tournament, and to make the finals even more exciting, it is the first time that any of the four teams – ACT Aces, Central West Wranglers, Central Coast Rush, Coffs Coast Chargers – have made it through to the finals stages.
The grand final is set to be played at the Sydney Cricket Ground on February 5, and the ACT Aces will need each of their batsmen to be switched on should they make it past the Wranglers in the semi-final.