Done and dusted
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell officially welcomed the Victorian, NSW and Tasmanian cricket teams to Lismore with a civic reception at the Council Chambers on Wednesday morning.
After acknowledging the traditional custodians of the area, the Widjabul people, she reminded everyone that the first Australian cricket team to play against England was an Aboriginal team in 1868.
“This is a sporting town and we are very proud of our sporting facilities. The announcement of this series was greeted with much excitement by our sporting community,” she said. “Let's just hope the air clears so we can see the ground.”
Tasmanian captain George Bailey said they had been training in the rain for the last four months and a little bit of dust was not going to worry them.
Mayor Dowell suggested that perhaps the next Adam Gilchrist or Brendan Drew (a former Alstonville lad who is playing for the Tasmanian Tigers) would be amongst the juniors who are playing warm-up games during the cricket festival.
NSW Blues acting captain and Australian Test bowler Stuart Clark said Lismore had been very welcoming to the Blues in the past, with a match against the West Indies in 1991 and a series against Victoria in 2005/06.
“It's great for us to come here and it won't be the last time a NSW cricket team comes here,” he said. “It's great to get out of Sydney where we've trained all winter and we're ready to play. I'm excited to be here for the next week in preparation for the next stop which is the Champions League (in India).”
Victorian Clint McKay presented Mayor Dowell with a Bushrangers shirt, which she asked them to sign and said it would be put on display at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Victoria won the opening game on Tuesday night, which was reduced from 50 overs to 40 because rain had seeped through the covers onto the pitch.
Lismore Council's events manager John Bancroft said it had been a “big decision” for Council to take on the role of hosting the event.
“To be brutally honest, we haven't got a lot of experience in hosting an event like this, but we know that we do have good facilities,” he said.
Council had spent money on extra light for the day/night matches and had moved other sporting events away from Oakes Oval from late August in order to get the pitch ready.
“Which was not without controversy. As you can imagine that's a premium bit of dirt at this time of year... But I think people will see we've made the right decisions when they see the quality of the cricket,” Mr Bancroft.
Although crowds were disappointing on opening night, he said advance ticket sales indicated crowds of between 3000 and 5000 were expected on Saturday and Sunday night.
The festival of cricket runs until next Tuesday, September 29. For a full program of events go to www.visitlismore.com.au and follow the links to the program.