The Singleton Argus has released its official top ten SDCA first grade players list this morning on the eve of another exciting finals series.
Sports reporter Alex Tigani collected the top ten lists from the five competing captains in Daniel Storey (Valley), Mark Unicomb (Creeks), Jackson Cox (Valley), Josh Harvey (JPC) and Anthony Bailey (Glendon) - see story.
Interestingly, five different players were submitted between the captains as their number one choice.
While it makes for a refreshing reminder of just how much talent is evenly spread across the competition this scenario would also bring forth the need for extra research when compiling the final rankings.
So after a long fortnight of discussions, text messages, research and water cooler conversations here is the final cut.
10. Daniel Storey (Valley)
It was very difficult to leave Daniel Storey out. He has an impressive reputation with the bat in hand particularly at representative level. In the end, he made the final cut ahead of fellow first grade captains Anthony Bailey and Josh Harvey.
Expert says: "He's 'Mr Cricket' in this town with a fine reputation in both the local and representative competitions," Alex Tigani (Singleton Argus).
and Jacob Carey (Valley)
Let it be known this list is based on current form and performance throughout the season. Jacob Carey remains as the exception. The 28-year-old has been the hottest topic of discussion. Many of his opponents have informed me that he would have been number one on the list no longer than a year ago. With this in mind, and further assessment of his statistics, he has been granted equal tenth with his skipper.
Expert says: "Elegant left hand bat. Known for making big scores once he is in. Scored over 700 runs over all forms in 2017-18 season. Likes to bowl spin and usually comes up with a wicket. Could say so much more," Helene Goadsby (SDCA official).
9. Alex Thrift (JPC)
There's no argument that Alex Thrift was the catalyst for JPC's remarkable run in the T20 series such was his dominance with the bat. Though he featured in the top ten lists of all five captains only Josh Harvey considered him for his top five.
Expert says: "One of the toughest batters to get out once he has his eye in. Can continue to find the boundary and a great fielder," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).
8. Mark Unicomb (Creeks)
Unicomb was moved up and down the list throughout the week. Similarly to Jacob Carey, the Creeks skipper's reputation was brought up in discussion time and time again more so than his actual 2018/19 season to date. But still, he features on all four of his opposing captains' submissions. Currently, he has taken two more wickets than the top seven on this list combined.
Experts say: "Has the ability to build pressure, get wickets and he's Singleton's best bowler by far," Anthony Bailey (Glendon captain).
"He has won seven out of the last nine for bowling averages for the association. He's a proven match winner," Myles Cook (Creeks teammate).
7. Bradley Cox (PCH)
If PCH is going to surpass Creeks for the final spot in this year's grand final then there's every chance that Bradley Cox will be a key factor. Cox was arguably the number one first grade batsman for the month of November however a modest T20 series has seen him finish seventh.
Expert says: "He's a stylish batter when he is on and also a very handy keeper," Anthony Bailey (Glendon captain).
6. Shane Givney (JPC)
Here's a dilemma. Shane Givney was unable to make the final cut on two of the submissions yet his own captain rated him as the best player in the region. He scored a century in the club's defeat to Creeks earlier in the piece and has also combined for 20 catches with teammate Jack Turner (11 more than the next best partnership). Ultimately, I found him worthy of a top five finish but he'll have to settle for sixth.
Expert says: "His performances throughout the season speak for themselves," Josh Harvey (JPC captain).
5. Greg Thrift (JPC)
Here's another tough decision. Greg Thrift is neglected from two of the submissions and yet he's also been rated as the number one first grade player by one of his opposing captains. Thrift's stats have kept him in the game for four decades but to feature in our top five at 54 years of age is a true reflection of his skill and passion each and every weekend.
Expert says: "Greg Thrift is an experienced batter who times his innings well. I'm glad we aren’t playing him 20 years ago," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).
4. Jackson Cox (PCH)
Cox was ranked third, fourth, sixth and eighth by his opposing captains and is primarily known for his batting prowess so to finish fourth on this list may be a bit generous. Still, he's one of the finest in the league and will do everything he can to expose the Creeks' outfield in tomorrow's mouth watering semi-final. Need we mention his 130 runs against JPC in November?
Expert says: "Jackson is the backbone of the PCH batting line up. He can bat steady all day with the ability to put the bad ball away," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).
3. Nathan Levy (Valley)
Nathan Levy could join a unique group of players to win man of the match titles in both the T20 and regular format grand final within the same season. Though the Thrifts guided JPC to last month's T20 title Levy proved to be the crowd favourite with 88no in the final innings. This came just a few weeks after the 40-year-old also scored a century against Josh Harvey's men.
Levy was his captain's pick for the number one player just ahead of Harvey and Nathan Bagnall however both will be more worried about the upcoming grand final than Levy's reputation.
Expert says: "A composed batter, once in he tends to score big. Safe hands in the outfield. Can make big boundaries look small," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).
2. Myles Cook (Creeks)
It might sound generous to rank Myles Cook in the top two yet he was one of the few to feature so prominently in the submissions (Mark Unicomb selected him as number one). He's only featured six times this year and yet still manged to do plenty of damage to JPC and Valley with the bat. On the other side of the discussion you only have to hand him the ball and he'll walk away with a 3-11 against Glendon.
But can Cook make it to number one? If he played two more games this season and dominated at least one of those then I'd say yes but until tomorrow he's a close second.
Expert says: "Aggressive opener and handy spinner to tie down an end. Loves the shorter deliveries and can make good bowling look bad," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).
1. Nathan Bagnall (Valley)
He was the pick of the captains, the leading run scorer and he's now one game away from guiding Valley to another SDCA first grade title. Congratulations Bags!
Expert says: "Aggressive opener who takes advantage of the fielding restrictions. Has been the difference this year in Valley getting off to a good start and getting some big scores," Daniel Storey (SDCA president).