It was with welcome blue skies that Lismore district senior cricket commenced last Saturday. Embracing the growing popularity of T20 cricket, all Lismore grades from 1st through to 4th grade will be playing the shorter form of the game over the first three weeks. Hopefully this will allow players to clear out a few cobwebs before settling into the season proper.
It is expected that the late withdrawal of the Lismore Workers / Goonellabah Sports amalgamation from the FNC Hooker League competition will strengthen Lismore first grade with several players feeding back into the local competition. Workers will be boosted by the the return of the experienced Michael Knight and top line bowler Jason Caught, while Goonellabah Sports will have Captain Matt Latimer back. After a rebuilding period Easts return to Lismore first grade, following several years absence, thanks to a recruitment drive in which most of last year's Norths Goonellabah Tavern team transferred across. These three Clubs will be looking to challenge last season's top two teams, Souths and Marist Brothers.
In the Bruce Jobson Plumbing first-grade T20 competition the five teams will play four games over the first three weeks, with Friday and Saturday night games at Oakes Oval scheduled for the next two weekends.
Last Saturday, Marist Brothers played Workers Club and Easts took on Goonellabah Sports while Souths had the bye. Easts celebrated their return to first grade with a tight nine run victory over Goonellabah, scoring 8 for 105 and restricting the opposition to 7 for 96, Easts batting all-rounder Will Donovan proving the destroyer with the ball taking 6 for 23.
In the other game, batting first Workers managed 8 for 111 off their twenty overs with Brothers Hartley Spann taking a hat trick in the final over with his off spin bowling. Brothers easily chased the target finishing at 1 for 115 off seventeen overs with veteran Craig Ferguson unbeaten on 48.
The weekend's outstanding performance in Lismore lower grades was by Workers Club all rounder Paul Pryor who smashed 135 off 15 overs in 3rd grade, which is sure to have captured club selector's attention.
In this week's draw, the defending T20 champions Souths have their opening game of the season against Easts on Friday night at Oakes Oval, Brothers play Goonellabah, while Souths take on Workers in the Saturday afternoon games. Easts play Brothers, who back up from the early game, at 7.30pm Saturday night.