TRARALGON cricketer Lee Stockdale has etched his name into the record book for Victoria Country, becoming the most capped player for the representative side.

Stockdale brought up the milestone at the Australian Country Cricket Championships, which took place earlier this month in Newcastle from January 3 to 10.

Playing at his seventh ACCC tournament, Stockdale captained the Victoria Country side for the second consecutive year, after debuting as captain last year in Canberra.

On Thursday, January 4 ahead of Victoria Country’s Round 2 match, Stockdale was set to surpass the games record of 52 games, previously held by Ballarat’s Heath Pyke, and was presented with a plaque before the match as recognition.

After debuting for the representative side in the 2013/14 season in Canberra, Stockdale has now amassed 59 games for Victoria Country, and he doesn’t want to stop yet.

“It’s just really enjoyable, that’s the best level I can play now and to play with some of the blokes from the other country regions in Victoria is really nice,” he said.

“Some of the boys that I’ve played with in the last three, four, five years have become really close friends, so that’s what I enjoy about it.

“I’d definitely like to go next year to the Barossa, and then after that we’ll see how it all goes.”

After winning the last two Australian Country Cricket Championships in 2023 and 2020 (2021-22 were cancelled due to COVID), Victoria Country was unable to complete a three peat in 2024, finishing third.

Victoria Country started the competition in fine form, winning their opening three games: defeating Western Australia in a one-dayer by 92 runs, Queensland by 50 runs in another one-dayer, and the Australian Capital Territory by two wickets in their first Twenty20.

Their first bump in the road came in a huge eight-wicket loss to New South Wales in a T20, before they got the ball rolling again.

Another string of three consecutive wins had Victoria Country in prime position to go back to-back-to-back, after defeating South Australia by three wickets in a T20, WA by 64 runs and SA again – this time in the one-day format – by 87 runs.

All the Vics needed was one win from their remaining two matches, which proved to be a hard ask.

They narrowly went down by five runs to the ACT in Round 8, before suffering the nail-in-the-coffin-loss, a four-wicket loss to NSW.

Victoria Country finished the nine-game tournament with a 6-3 record, an equal best, tied with New South Wales, but it was Queensland who took out the championship, with a record of 5-4.

Due to the fact that four points were awarded for one-day wins and two points for T20s, Queensland was able to maximise their advantage with a string of one-day wins.

Queensland sat with a 2-4 record after six games, but won their last three one-day matches to climb to the top and win the whole thing, meanwhile Victoria lost their last two matches.

“It’s disappointing, with two games to go we only needed to win one and we lost both,” Stockdale said.

“It was such a gruelling week with the way the fixture was and all the team had injuries and we just run out of gas, we had injuries ourselves.

“To finish equal with New South Wales and Queensland is probably about right, but by the end of the week I think both those teams were going better than we were.”

Gippsland was well-represented at the championships, with Stockdale joined by Glengarry’s Nathan Freitag, along with Sale-Maffra cricketers Nathan Whitford, Jack Rietschel and former Sale resident Jack Wrigglesworth.

The Gippsland products flexed their muscles while on representative duty, all having something to be proud of individually.

Stockdale led the way for Victoria, as a captain should, averaging 25 with the bat, with a top score of 75 in Round 1, and taking 12 wickets throughout the tournament.

Just to add to his list of accomplishments, Stockdale was named player of the championship.

Rietschel recorded his top score of 24 in Round 9 and tallied his best bowling figures at the other end of the championship in Round 1, taking 3/20.

Freitag starred with the bat on multiple occasions, smashing two half-centuries in rounds four and eight, while causing havoc with the ball, recording his best figures of 3/26 in Round 3.

Debutant Whitford took four wickets throughout his maiden campaign, and it mightn’t be the last chance he gets for Victoria Country.

Gippslander, now playing in Geelong, Wrigglesworth, was the leading wicket-taker out of all Gippslanders with 16 wickets at an average just over 16. His best figures came in Round 6, taking 3/23, also managing to score 26 not out in Round 7.

Stockdale was quick to sing their praises.

“Nathan Whitford on debut was outstanding with the new ball in the games that he played,” he said.

“Jack Rietschel is one of our best players and he has been for the last three or four years, so they both did really well.”