Crawford out without a win
BRETT Crawford boasts a decorated representative cricket career but all that came to a disappointing end on Sunday at the NSW Country Championships in Newcastle.
The Tintenbar-East Ballina skipper led the North Coast team in his last Country campaign, where he oversaw two embarrassing losses.
The first was on Saturday to Central Northern by 126 runs, before the final-bound Western demolished his team by 203 runs.
North Coast could manage only totals of 101 and 70 respectively, which led to a blast from Crawford over his team's batting failures.
"For nobody to step up in our top order on both days was not acceptable," he said.
"We were three down for not many in both games and we're very disappointed with that.
"We had good pitches, so our batsmen need to realise they're good enough.
"Mentally at the moment, they're not quite there yet."
After playing for the North Coast for the best part of the last 10 years, Crawford, 35, said it was hard to retire from representative cricket after receiving two thrashings.
"But at least I'll enjoy Sundays with my family now," he said.
"My son Bailey is 10 years old and the goal has always been to play first grade with him."
The fast bowling all-rounder said he would like to stay on as a selector of Far North Coast-based players for next year's North Coast team.
And he endorsed Alstonville skipper Steve Robb as the captain for next year.
"Steve would do a fantastic job and I'll be pushing for him to lead the team," he said.
"He bowled very well on Sunday (against Western, with the figures of 3-28 from 10 overs)."
Crawford had the distinction of representing NSW Country in two Australian Country Cricket Championships and said he knew for a while that this summer would be his last as a representative player.
He said fellow quick bowler Michael Anderson of Cudgen gave himself a chance of being picked for this year's NSW Country team.
Anderson snared 3-25 against Central Northern and Crawford backed him up with 2-31 in the same game.
Illawarra will host Western in the final on Sunday.
Western beat defending champion Newcastle by six wickets on Saturday.
"Western was a bit lucky to win the toss and send Newcastle in on a damp pitch," Crawford said.
"But they played very well.
"They've got good opening batsmen, their Scottish international (Craig Wallace) is a quality batsman and they have a good lower order.
"I don't know much about Illawarra but Western has also got quality fast bowlers and good spinners.
"(Western batsman) Pat Rosser has played first grade in Sydney too."