A day after being run out for a golden duck in his NSW Country debut, Belmont newbie Adrian Isherwood top-scored with 59 not out to help the Bush Blues to consecutive wins in the Australian Country Championships on Thursday.
Isherwood, a former Sydney first-grader who relocated to Caves Beach last year, bounced back from a horror start in NSW's opening win over ACT on Wednesday with a crucial knock 24 hours later against Western Australia at Stockton's Lynn Oval.
The all-rounder, coming in at sixth on the batting list, stabilised the innings after an early collapse to help NSW to a total of 202 off 50 overs.
On a tough wicket, the Bush Blues were sent in to bat by Western Australia and they lost openers Ethan Debono (0) and Bailey Abela (8) cheaply early on. The top-five batters only managed to score a combined 62 runs and NSW looked in trouble until Isherwood held court at the crease to ensure his side salvaged a respectable total.
The 28-year-old, who joined Belmont in the Newcastle first-grade competition this season, finished 59 not out off 81 balls and was supported by Callum Rainger (28) and Stockton product Nick Foster (25).
Their contributions lifted NSW above 200 runs but the last two batters were dismissed for ducks, including one on the final ball.
"I came in at a difficult time, the wicket wasn't great but it was just good to hang around and post a score," Isherwood said. "I just wanted to soak up some time and try and bat with the tail as long as I could. The ball was still moving around quite a bit when I came out there and the boys said it was pretty hard yards early.
"I haven't seen a wicket do that much in a while."
Isherwood also played a key role with the ball, taking 3-41 to help the home side dismiss Western Australia for 145 after 34.3 overs.
Jack Preddey (3-35) proved just as damaging, while Josh McTaggart (1-15) and Benjamin Parsons (1-13) had decent spells.
The Bush Blues, who last won the carnival in 2017/18, are one of two sides that remain undefeated after two rounds of play.
The other team is Victoria, who they face from 6.30pm at No.1 Sportsground in one of two Twenty20 games they are scheduled to play on Friday. At 10am, they take on South Australia at Waratah Oval.
"We're feeling pretty confident," Isherwood said. "If we try and get two more Twenty20 wins tomorrow, Victoria will be a tough game under lights but if we can beat South Australia we'll get more momentum to try and bring that game closer."
Elsewhere Thursday, South Australia (6/205) defeated ACT (200) and Victoria (9-228) beat Queensland (178).
In other Twenty20 games on Friday, Western Australia will chase their first win against Queensland at No.1 Sportsground at 10am. The ACT face Victoria at Harker Oval at the same time.
South Australia take on Western Australia at Waratah Oval from 2.15pm. Queensland and the ACT clash at No.1 Sportsground at 2.15pm before Victoria and NSW's match at 6.30pm.