Nathan Price wrestled with what way to go this season.
And even after opting for a return home following eight summers with Sydney club Randwick-Petersham, wasn’t really sure how he would fare back in the Newcastle first grade competition.
The Wallsend captain-coach put those doubts to bed in 2017-2018 with a stellar campaign, highlighted by top spot in the district runs and average.
“At the start of the season, after my first hit, I found it quite difficult,” the Jesmond-based 30-year-old said.
“Just with the change of conditions – the balls are different and the wickets are different. It was really challenging.
“I had a conversation with [Newcastle teammate] Joseph Price at rep training and we laughed and said if I scored 300 runs I’ve probably had a good year.
“I was a bit worried and wasn’t sure if I could stay at the standards I’ve set myself the last couple of years, but I found a groove, found a way to do well and was lucky enough to get a couple of decent scores on the board.”
Saturday’s last-round 137, Price’s third century and second in a losing cause this season, saw him sneak into first place by five runs.
His aggregate of 760 at 63.33 was compiled across 14 innings.
There were also 29 wickets at 18.38 apiece.
The all-rounder was a major ingredient in Wallsend’s much-improved performance, finishing not far from semi-final reach after three summers out of contention, and follows representative titles for Newcastle at the NSW Country Championships and T20 Regional Bash.
And while withdrawing prior to the Bush Blues’ prize-winning Australian Country Championships in Western Australia despite being named skipper, he then led NSW to victory at the National Indigenous Championships in Alice Springs last month.
“It was a pretty good summer in the end,” Price said.
“But winning the Regional Bash at the SCG was pretty special. Sitting down on the wicket with the boys and a few celebratory drinks after the game was something else. Not many people get to play there let alone win a tournament there.”
The Newcastle first grade player of the year will be announced next week ahead of the upcoming grand final. Price was leading by one point when scores went in-camera with three rounds remaining. Eight others were within five points.
As for next season, Price will once again be in charge of Wallsend and hopes the club can kick on.
“If we scrape a point in those games we lost outright and win one other, we’re probably in the top four,” he said. “Ninth doesn’t really reflect the season we had and hopefully we can build on it.”
BATTING: Nathan Price (Wallsend) 760 runs at an average of 63.33; Rahul Bakshi (Cardiff-Boolaroo) 755 @ 47.19; Dylan Hunter (Newcastle City) 610 @ 55.45; Matthew Gawthrop (University) 602 @ 46.31; Adrian Chad (Toronto) 523 @ 40.23.