WHEN you begin sifting through statistics, old articles and weighing up what makes one player better than another, you come to one conclusion.
There has been no shortage of quality cricketers in this region. Not now, not ever.
Putting together a team of the decade is a tough gig as you're forced to weigh up a number of things.
Statistics are important, but also is the impact a player had on the competition and for his team across a number of years.
There are some absolutely cracking players in this team of the decade, and copious amount of good players who just miss out.
Aaron Williams, for example, was named as 12th man but has had a sparkling decade.
Players like former West Warrnambool batsman Leigh Johnson and Dennington's Dustin Drew are among the association's best ever but retirement and injuries through the middle of the decade meant they just miss out here based on runs.
Interestingly, just one of the players which features in the team of the decade has retired.
Here it is - The Standard's Warrnambool and District Cricket Association team of the decade.
NICK BUTTERS (c)
Why: A three-time premiership skipper at Woodford whose average aggregate per season is well above 500. Not only is Butters a capable contributor with bat and ball, his captaincy nous means he is the most qualified for the skipper position in this team.
Only COVID-19 could deny the Eels and Butters the chance at a fourth premiership in six years but even still, there is no doubting the fact that Woodford is the team of this decade.
Unlucky not to play more for Victoria Country and deserving of both an opening batting spot and captaincy in this team.
CAMERON WILLIAMS (WK)
Dismissals (as WK): 316
Why: In Williams' case, statistics speak for themselves. His ability to damage with the bat - notching more than 4,500 runs across the decade - is impressive enough but his wicket-keeping prowess just adds to the value he brings.
Williams is also a multiple Victoria Country representative and his leadership helped Russells Creek break its long-standing premiership drought.
Has elevated his game to another level since crossing from Nestles and taking on captaincy. Hard to find a better wicketkeeper-batsman outside Melbourne cricket.
Why: Shouldered a lot of the load for Brierly-Christ Church in some lean years but remained loyal nontheless and has the runs to back it up. Over 5000 runs over the course of a decade is a phenomenal return, even more so on Warrnambool's typically bowler-friendly decks. Former Melbourne Country Week captain and Victoria Country representative.
Why: Is there anything this bloke can't do? Now a three-time cricketer-of-the-year and just oozes x-factor on the field. Aggressive and won't let bowlers dictate terms. Has added bowling to his repertoire in recent years and that's added to his all-round game. Too good to miss. His three-year stint coaching East Warrnambool YCW was also fruitful and included a grand final appearance.
Why: Technically-sound player who again has risen to the test of captaincy. Meticulous skipper and was recently voted joint best leader in the association on a The Standard poll. Has been a crucial cog in West Warrnambool's operation for a number of seasons and will continue to be so into the future.
Why: Multiple cricketer-of-the-year who continued to play a role for Nestles through the past decade. Runs and wickets speak for themselves - a true all-rounder.
Why: Stapleton's credentials as an all-rounder are hard to match. Solid body of runs, solid body of wickets. This includes a 35-wicket 2017-18 season.
Throw in captaincy experience and his spot in well-earned.
Why: Class act as a bowling option and the third-most prolific wicket-taker of the past decade. Performances have booked a place in the team of the decade. Ultra-consistent.
Why: The greatest wicket-taker of the past 10 years in Warrnambool cricket. A multiple Victoria Country captain who is still firing after years of service to both Russells Creek and Allansford. Hard to find a better bowler in association history.
Why: The key cog in Woodford's bowling attack who has multiple premiership medals in his collection. Statistically strong and his 46-wicket haul two years ago was just scary. Still a star talent.
Why: Ever-reliable, ever-consistent. Beks has been taking wickets for years (more than 30, to be precise). Although he is 54, wickets haven't stopped coming. The veteran medium-pacer has claimed more than 20 scalps in his last two seasons. Showing no signs of slowing down, even after 400 games.
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