CRICKET SUCCESS: Lismore under 12s cricket carnival organiser John McMahon was thrilled with the level of attendance and play at last week's event.
A NEW all time record for the number of players attending last week's under 12s cricket carnival was set last week with 20 teams descending on Lismore during its quietest time of year. Teams hailed from the Illawara to South East Queensland and west to Tamworth.
"It is now the biggest junior carnival on the eastern seaboard," said organiser John McMahon, who at 80 years of age took the mountain of administration associated with the event entirely in his stride.
The Lismore icon is a former Sheffield Shield player, and captained the NSW Country team when it played at Oakes Oval against South Africa in December, 1963. The octogenarian was delighted with the level of play at last week's carnival and he especially marvelled at the courage of young talent, even in the face of extreme heat day after day.
Stand out player of the series went to young Jack Cooper from Corndale, who amassed a remarkable 182 runs during the carnival, only getting out once. The day before the carnival he hit 84 not out while playing representative under 13 cricket at Ballina.
The young star is keen to follow in the footsteps of his oldest brother Tom, who plays in the Big Bash League for the Melbourne Renegades and interstate with the South Australian Redbacks. Jack's next older brother Ben is another rising star, who featured on Foxtel's Cricket Superstar program.
For Jack the five day carnival was the longest run of cricket he had played so far, and he was most proud of his ability to keep playing strongly right through the crackling heat to the end of the last day.
"The best part of the carnival," he said, "was meeting new friends."
Meanwhile, Mr McMahon noted that many in cricketing circles were looking forward to more action from the young prodigy. Interestingly, three top players in this year's Australian test team made their debut in representative cricket right here in Lismore: Usman Kwahaja, John Hastings and David Warner, the latter playing at Oakes Oval back in 1998.
Of the interstate cricketers, 11 made their representative debut in Lismore at the same annual event
Players from throughout NSW and especially Sydney were amazed at the quality of the pitch and playing surface at Oakes Oval, and Mr McMahon said Lismore City Council had been particularly helpful, singling out events manager Leanne Clark, in making sure the best country oval in NSW was ripe for play.