He deserves a pat on the back, said local cricket doyen Harold Crozier. He was referring to Lismore Council curator Craig Goldsmith and the excellent job he had done preparing the pitches last weekend. It had been a week of inclement weather and yet the increasingly skilled curator had not prepared one sticky. Sticky wickets tend to rear off a good length and they offer the bowlers an unfair advantage and ruin a good game of cricket. The wickets in Lismore were slow and seamed about a bit, but they were more than playable, and the scorelines were evidence of that with even the lowly placed Hawks, Workers and Pirates putting on 150 plus for the first innings.
Easts will be pushing to seal the minor premiership when they pad up against Lennox Head this Saturday at Neilson Park. Lennox, who went into their innings last Saturday short a player, lost their ninth wicket in the 86th over, setting the Waratahs 180 for victory. The Pirates young cabin boy Dan McColl (60) opened the innings with first mate Mark Denmeade and the pair successfully blunted the Waratah attack, with Easts failing to capture a wicket for 40 overs. The Pirates have beaten Easts this year, so perhaps the minor title isnt a fait accompli.
At Nesbitt Park, Souths accurate bowling and the Hawks cautious batting provided one of the slowest run rates of the year, with the Hawks managing only 152 from 81 overs. The rate of under two runs an over caused some ruffled feathers in the Souths camp, but if they perpetually bowl on a good length, what do they expect? Young Daniel Cox again batted with determination at the top of the Hawks innings and Nathan Bonamy (45) also, unusually, kept his head down. Souths did provide their own entertainment during the gruelling encounter with Craig Bateman taking a screamer in the gully from a full-blooded square cut from Josh Blackler. Souths needed an outright to give themselves a chance at the minor premiership but Bonamys boys put paid to that idea.
Workers juniors, led by stand-in captain Paul Ianna, acquitted themselves well against the powerful Tintenbar East Ballina side, putting on 162 mostly due to a careful and determined innings by Under 16 champion Jeremy Cowin (51 n.o.). The Bar bowled out Souths last match for 55 so the young Workers side should be proud of themselves. And maybe, just maybe, their spinners could turn the tables on the all-conquering seasiders this Saturday.
In contrast to Croziers opinion of the Lismore pitches, local umpire Toby Fletcher could not have been more scathing in his criticism of the Queen Elizabeth Park pitch in Casino.
It was the worst wicket Ive ever seen in 30 years of umpiring, Fletcher said. Never saw a wicket so bad. The awful pitch was apparently as dead as a Dodo, offering nothing for bat or ball. Im not a curator but perhaps the Casino association need to dig up the pitch and start again. Fortunately, the finals will not be played in Casino even if the Cavaliers make the top two. Despite the deadly slow going Al Nowlan bowled with real grit to pick up 4 for 20 against Alstonville. The redsoilers managed 115 and the Cavaliers were 3 for 37 in reply with Slammin Sam Irvine still not out. Casino should win this one and seal a spot in the finals.
The other pitch used during this round was the Fripp Oval wicket in Ballina. It has been a bit two-paced and the field has been a bit slow, but that didnt stop Brothers putting on 163 against the Bears. The match is a must-win for Ballina and they have already collapsed to 6 for 70. This Saturday they will be relying heavily on Andrew Gordon to transform their fortunes. Gordon is returning from a highly successful tour with the NSW Aboriginal cricket team.
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