Numurkah run machine Mark Brown is simply enjoying the opportunity to play a full season of A-grade cricket and the results are there for all to see.By Damen Francis
Numurkah run machine Mark Brown is simply enjoying the opportunity to play a full season of A-grade cricket and the results are there for all to see.
Brown has been the in-form batsman of the Haisman Shield this season, piling on 721 runs in 10 innings so far, and against Kialla on Saturday, he chalked up his third straight ton.
It was his fourth of the season, along with two half-centuries, and he has only failed to score beyond 20 on two occasions.
Perhaps the Cricket Shepparton community should have seen it coming.
In his last four innings of season 2011-12, Brown accrued 399 runs at an average of 79.8, with a highest score of 128 and a lowest of 54.
However, his previous best season aggregate on record was 501 runs in season 2005-06 and the Blues skipper admitted his current level of production was beyond expectations.
‘‘I’ve never scored as many as this in terms of sheer weight of numbers,’’ Brown said.
‘‘Traditionally I’ve had fairly interrupted seasons, I played a lot of football and missed a few games here and there.
‘‘I’ve been lucky enough to convert starts into big scores and I’ve had a few lives, but the last couple I’ve felt as good as I probably ever have.’’
Walking out to bat with an average of 90-plus must do wonders for the confidence, but a change in approach could also have been key, with a bit of additional responsibility not going astray either.
Good on both sides of the wicket, Brown has this season shown he has the poise to match his skills as a strokemaker.
‘‘In the past at Numurkah, we’ve had good batting sides and I’ve been able to go out there and bat pretty freely,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s not a revelation to say we don’t have the strongest line-up in the competition this season and we’ve put a real emphasis on guys if they get a chance they have to take it.
‘‘You’ve got to practise what you preach, so it’s no good me going out there as captain and making a start and not going on with it.’’
Unfortunately the association’s number one batsman will not be on show at Melbourne Country Week, owing to work commitments.
‘‘Running a pub makes it hard,’’ Brown said.
‘‘I’ve played at one before and thoroughly enjoyed it, but unfortunately the stars don’t align at the moment.
‘‘(Team coach) James Stokes looks like he’s got a pretty good squad together and they should be really competitive down there.’’
Present form aside, Brown said his runs would mean nothing if his side does not make finals and you can bet that thought is on his mind each time he goes out to bat, driving him on.
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