COACH Wayne Walsh yesterday dedicated the Bendigo District Cricket Association's long-awaited Melbourne Country Week Provincial Group premiership to the late John Turner.
Turner was a strong advocate of Melbourne Country Week during his playing days, and later
after he had retired, before his death in 2005.
But Turner was at the forefront of the minds of Walsh and captain Heath Behrens yesterday as Bendigo defeated Mornington Peninsula by 31 runs at Seymour's Kings Park to capture its first Provincial Group title since 1953.
"I know the great man upstairs Jock Turner will be proud of me and all the boys," Walsh said.
"I'm so proud to honour Jock with this trophy we have won - he was a great man, a great friend
of mine and a great mentor.
"Something I promised myself when he passed away was that I wouldn't let this go until I achieved it, and I now have, so I can rest in peace now, and so can he."
Walsh is one of the most successful players in the history of the BDCA, playing in 13 premierships with Eaglehawk and Golden Square, but he says yesterday's triumph ranks as one of the greatest highs of his career.
"This has been the missing part of my career," Walsh said.
"I didn't achieve it as a captain after playing in two or three losing grand finals, but I have now been part of it as a winning coach.
"So I know I can go to my grave now realising I've achieved all I can in Bendigo cricket by winning the Provincial Group final."
Behrens echoed the sentiments of Walsh, who
has coached the Bendigo side for the past five years.
"Jock has been a big influence on my career - he always pushed Melbourne Country Week with me, and to bring it home is pretty special," Behrens said.
"I roomed with Walshy this week and we sat down and spoke about Jock and what it means to us to win for him, so it was pretty emotional there at the end for us."
The win was also the icing on the cake for Behrens, who had done everything else in his cricket career in the BDCA, except play in a Provincial Group premiership side before yesterday.
"We came here on a mission this week and to the boys' credit we have just played exceptional cricket all week," said Behrens, who made 34 and shared in an important partnership of 57 with Phil Hetherington for the third wicket.
"There were so many contributors, which was important.
"We knew it was a good side we brought over here, and that if we applied ourselves the right way, which we did, we knew we could go the whole journey.
"It wasn't just a couple of players having exceptional weeks with the bat and ball, everyone
put their hand up at different stages."
After making 9-167, Bendigo dismissed Mornington
Peninsula for 136 in the 45th over.
"We had a plan to bowl outside off stump and put
them under pressure, and the bowlers did the job well," Behrens said.
"The pressure was always going to be on them and we kept taking wickets at the right time.
"They lost their way a little bit at the end."
Yesterday's victory capped a superb week for Bendigo, which went through its four preliminary
round matches undefeated.