Batsmen dominate season opener

Ballina Bears opener Brett Izzard on-drives at Nielson Park on Saturday against Eastern Districts on his way to a scratchy but determined 31.

Lucky Nind, meticulous McLean

Souths Paul McLean has started the season in sublime form with a beautiful and chanceless 117 against Marist Brothers on a batting paradise at Nesbitt Park on Saturday. The graceful right hander took full toll of anything short, helping Souths to an imposing 6 for 303 at stumps. McLean combined for a sizable first wicket partnership with Souths captain Richard Nind. Nind, who promoted himself to opener, rode his luck to knock up 95 before being caught and bowled by left arm medium pacer Pat Foran. At one point Nind was caught off a no ball, and the ball dribbled back onto his wicket, but it didnt remove the bails and was dropped several times. That man should buy a lottery ticket.

Apart from dropping several catches, the Brethrens ground fielding looked good and all their bowlers toiled honestly in unfavourable conditions. Off spinner Dean Collings (2 for 52) did squeeze some movement from the road but otherwise the pitch was flat and friendly. Souths, whose attack is missing Craig Bateman and Scott Coster, might struggle to bowl out the Brethren this Saturday unless the weather spices up the pitch.

Wagland slices them up

Premier League soccer goal keeper Lucas Wagland proved himself a sporting all rounder on Saturday, taking 7 for 9 on a good pitch at Kingsford Smith Park. Bowling a good full length and swinging the ball away from the right handers the big, and previously under utilised, Wagland tore through Lennox Head, bundling the lakemen out for a meagre 66. Tintenbar replied quickly, knocking up the required runs in a mere 13 overs and sending the hapless Pirates back in.

Lennox put in a more determined attempt in their second innings and were 2 for 58 at stumps. If the Pirates are to save themselves the indignity of an outright they will need to bat into the final hour of play, such is the might of the Tintenbar batting.

Bears bat themselves into contention

At Nielson Park, Ballina Bears won the toss and batted on a deck as dead as the parrot from the famous Monty Python sketch. Consequently, Ballinas Toby Horden (52) and Brett Izzard (31) put together a solid opening stand of 88, with Horden regularly hitting through the line and over the infield. Sam Adams then continued the attack, plundering 45 in quick time before skying the ball off Ian Gregory for Lee Pittavino to slide in underneath and take a good catch just behind the bowlers stumps.

Easts did well to stem the flow of runs throughout the day and it wasnt until stand-in captain Shane Staples (64) took up the cudgels for Ballina in the last hour that the seasiders established a defendable score.

The Waratahs attack put in an earnest effort on the flat track, notably Jake McKinnon (3 for 62), Ian Gregory (2 for 46) and Wes Koskela (2 for 56), who bowled 55 overs of the 78 over innings.

Easts were 0 for 0 having played out one over, but are down a wicket by default, with opener Scott McClelland unable to play this Saturday.

Casinos daring declaration

Matthew Boyd took two excellent outfield catches to remove Sam Dietrich and Cavalier dangerman Sam Irvine (86), as a determined Workers laboured to restrict Casino on a flat hard track at Queen Elizabeth Park. Boyds diving, juggling effort to remove Irvine typifies the rejuvenated spirit of the Workers team, who have been training hard and think themselves a good chance of hauling in Casinos total of 6 for 228 declared.

The daring declaration must have come as a disappointment to Scott Shephard when, having batted well for his 84, with a century in the offing, he was called in with 13 overs left in the days play. Workers were 1 for 16 at stumps with Casinos attack looking more penetrating than the Workers line-up. Granted the pitch conditions remain the same, and Workers batsmen keep their heads, this one could go down to the wire.

New slim-line Hawks

A new, slimmed down Goonellabah RSL struggled to build an innings on a slow dead pitch at Hill Park Oval in Wollongbar. Apart from opener Brad Walker, who patiently constructed 59, only Daniel Hughes (13) managed to make double figures in the face of a determined Alstonville fielding effort. A brilliant reflex catch at silly point by captain Derek Partridge topped off a good day for the redsoilers, who are well placed to convert the win. Although Daniel Kenyon (3 for 22) and Steve Robb (3 for 26) took the wickets, Scott Petty was the pick of the bowlers, bowling with good control and extracting plenty of movement from the dull track.

The outfield at Hill Park, apart from sloping heavily in one direction, is also very lush, turning threes into twos and twos into ones, and will generally make the going hard for the youthful Alstonville line-up. This is an intriguing tussle but Alstonville should be able to secure the first innings points.

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