Mark Solway secures run-scorer gong at Cricket ACT awards night

On Saturday, March 13, Mark Solway was standing at the crease at Weston Creek's Stirling Oval.

Back foot: Mark Solway batting this season, during his career-best knock of 200* against Eastlake. Photo: Elesa Kurtz.

Back foot: Mark Solway batting this season, during his career-best knock of 200* against Eastlake. Photo: Elesa Kurtz.

It was early in the second innings, and he had come in with the score at 2-18 after his brother, Dean, was dismissed for one in pursuit of Weston Creek Molonglo's total of 9-329.

At the time, Mark had scored 501 runs for the season; the second-highest tally behind ANU's Daniel Leerdam. But the Queanbeyan captain did not realise how close he was to topping the run-scorer's charts.

"It got to the last game of the year, and I had no idea," Mark said.

"I knew I was having a half-decent year, but one of the boys from [Weston] Creek at second slip said 'you need to get over 50'.

"I had no idea what he was talking about actually, but it just worked out that I ended up getting a few."

Aside from Solway and opener Harry O'Rourke, who scored 33, no other Bluebags batsman scored more than 11 runs.

When Mark was finally dismissed for 70, the score was 7-132. But, his season tally had been pushed to 571 runs, ten ahead of Leerdam.

This secured him the award for most runs in the first grade competition, an achievement which was officially recognised at last Thursday's ACT Cricket Awards Night.

"It's not the focus during or towards the end of the season, but looking back it's a pretty big honour," Mark said.

"I'm very happy with the way I've performed with the bat this year."

Though thrilled to have lead the ACT Premier Cricket competition, the 25-year-old was equally pleased to have beaten his older brother's tally - by more than 100 runs (571 to 438).

"It's good to finally get him," Mark said.

Selected: Mark Solway (right) and Tyler Van Luin at the Cricket ACT Awards Night. Photo: Queanbeyan District Cricket Club.

Selected: Mark Solway (right) and Tyler Van Luin at the Cricket ACT Awards Night. Photo: Queanbeyan District Cricket Club.

"All those years ago in the backyard, he'd be batting and I'd be bowling. As soon as I got him out, he'd pack up and go inside so I never really got the chance to have a stick in the backyard.

"I've finally caught up to him, I guess."

At 25 and 28 respectively, Mark and Dean are two of the most experienced players in the Queanbeyan lineup.

They know that their time has come to lead the way for the rest of their young and relatively fresh teammates as they look to build the side into a force of the competition.

"Myself and Deano, we both know that it's our turn to step up and be the dominant players in the comp for [Queanbeyan] to be successful," Mark said.

"We're pretty happy with that pressure, to be honest. We didn't have too bad a year - we won a premiership - but not making finals in the two-dayers was a little disappointing."

Indeed, Mark appears to have thrived under the weight of captaincy. The standout innings of his season with undoubtedly his unbeaten double century against Eastlake in round seven.

"I was about 115 overnight, and going into it the next day I was just trying to set up a good total for the team and ended up hitting it really well the next morning," he said.

When Cricket ACT announced the first grade team of the year at the awards night last week, Mark was one of two Queanbeyan players selected.

The other was allrounder Tyler Van Luin, who scored 897 runs at 32 and took 39 wickets at 22 across all formats.

"Tyler's the sort of bloke that can win you the game with bat and ball on his own," Mark said.

"They're always handy players to have in your team, knowing that on any given day they can get you out of a hole, which he has done a couple of times."

Michael O'Rourke was the third Bluebagger to receive recognition on the night, after he claimed the Fourth Grade Player of the Year award.

Despite a lacklustre two-day campaign, Queanbeyan has a T20 premiership and one day semi-final to show for its 2020/21 season's efforts.

Specific goals for the 2021/22 season have not yet been discussed, but Mark is eager to build on the positive signs Queanbeyan showed last year.

"We're still a very young team, at one of the games we played this year we worked out that the average age of the side was nearly under 20," he said.

"For a pretty young side, I'll take that. Getting a bit of silverware and making finals in the one-dayers. It could've been better, but overall it's not too bad.

"We'll definitely have a sit-down as a group and look at where we think we're at ... we'll start looking into that and doing a bit of planning in the coming months."

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