It hasn't been the ideal start to things on the field at the National Indigenous Cricket Championships (NICC) for Dubbo duo Ben Patterson and Brock Larance but thankfully for the pair the annual Alice Springs carnival is about much more than results.
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After two dominant Twenty20 wins on Monday, Patterson and Larance's NSW side - which includes former Parkes and Western Zone captain Pat Rosser - had the bye on Tuesday before a general bye on Wednesday.
They were primed for a return to the field in the red centre on Thursday but heavy rain ruined any chance of play.
The lack of play so far, combined with a foot injury Larance is carrying, has made things a little frustrating but the pair were still able to be part of the opening ceremony earlier in the week and time off the field has allowed much more conversation with teammates and opponents alike.
That's one of the most valuable parts of the tournament, something the Dubbo duo have learnt in their previous trips to Alice Springs as well when they were part of the Australian Indigenous squad's historic tour of the United Kingdom last year.
"That tour really opened both of our eyes' and we saw how different things were," Patterson said.
"You see what's changed and what has been preserved is only a small percentage of it but it's worth holding on to."
This marks the fifth successive season Patterson has been part of the NSW squad at the NICC while 18-year-old Larance is making his third appearance for the Blues.
"It's always good to come back and remember everything you learnt and learn more," Larance said.
"You can't learn enough and the best players in the world keep learning.
"This isn't something you take for granted and it's something I look forward to every year."
Culture was the real focus of the opening ceremony before the attention turned to matters on the field.
The Blues, led by Rosser, belted the Northern Territory by 133 runs before backing up in the afternoon to down South Australia by seven wickets.
Thursday's clash with Tasmania was abandoned without a ball being bowled but the Blues return to the field on Thursday for two matches, against Western Australian and then Victoria.
"Hopefully we can knock off a couple more teams and set a platform then move through to the grand final and make a statement," Larance said.
The NSW sides of recent years has dominated the NICC and the squad is targeting a third successive title this season.
"The aim is three in a row but we've had a lot of players out," Patterson said.
"Eight players [from last season] pulled out so it's a new-look side but the same culture and values are there.
"We want to play the NSW brand of cricket and find that perfect game and get the trophy."
The final is on Monday.
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