MATT GAHAN ... pitching in for Australia?
MATT GAHAN ... pitching in for Australia?

Aussie baseballers to take on the best

LISMORE pitcher Matt Gahan could be lining up for Olympic baseball silver medallist Australia in the 16-nation World Baseball Classic in March next year.

The inaugural tournament was announced yesterday by Major League Baseball (MLB) and the MLB Players' Association.

It will be hosted by the United States, Asia and Latin America.

"This is huge," MLB Australia director Tom Nicholson said.

"I'm not discrediting the Olympics, however it's difficult at times to have the top players because it's right in the middle of the Major League season.

"This is the first event that will showcase the best players in the sport.

"Australia should be competitive based on their silver medal in Athens."

Gahan lit up the speed gun while playing for Queensland in the Claxton Shield in Sydney earlier this year, prompting Australian coach John Deeble to rate him a chance of cracking the national team.

Australia is drawn to play the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Italy in the first round, with the top two teams advancing to the second round.

"The Dominican Republic have quite a few players in the major leagues out of the United States, so they will be one of the teams to beat," Nicholson said.

Sixteen national teams from North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia will compete in the four-round tournament, with more details in July.

Nicholson said the North American clubs would release players to compete.

"It will be just before the Major League season kicks off and all ball players will be made available," he said.

There will be no Far North Coast baseball this weekend, with the closure due to rain of Albert Park, Lismore.

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