Lennox bites back

To the editor,

It's been a milestone year for Lennox Head Cricket Club.

Arriving at the club last year player commitment was at an all time low. Understandable really. For the ten years the club had been playing in the LJ Hooker league, the only prize they had collected was the wooden spoon. Coming off yet another winless season the club were struggling once again to field a competitive side. However, as the season progressed it was evident that there were signs of some real promise. After notching up the clubs first win in three years against Marists, we finished the 1999/00 season with a victory over Byron and the promise of better things to come.

Throughout the off season, a massive amount of time and effort was put into canvassing the area for players that could strengthen the team. This was not an easy task, given the club's history of poor form. Trying to convince players that this year things would be different, this year things would be taken seriously, or that this year, Lennox Head Cricket club, would not only make the semi's, but challenge for the title, was a big ask.

There were countless knock-backs and for the first time in the club's history, Lennox Head was facing the real possibility of a season without an A-grade team. Thankfully, it all came together in time, and despite losing the first game to North's we all knew that we had a team that could shake the competition. But with eight new players, it would take some time to gel.

Sunday March 13th 2005 and the club is buzzing. Having won four of our last five matches, one by outright, Lennox Head are in the semi's and have South's on the ropes. Having been narrowly beaten by South's three weeks earlier, the players know that this time, the tables are about to be turned. At 3-53, chasing 165, the feeling is that if we bat sensibly, the league leaders will be toppled. It would be, the most significant victory in the club's history. A changing of the tides. South's are worried too. They know that their score is a modest one and that the lifeless pitch is going to do be offering them precious little in terms of movement or bounce. It's going to be a tough day for them. At least that's what they think as they walk thorough the gates.

Monday morning and the newspaper says it all. 'They've been dudded ? a ridiculous situation ? massive bungle ? Lennox Head, robbed of any chance'. Amongst the team, a mixture of anger and emptiness fills their hearts. 'How could this happen?' is their first response, quickly followed by 'surely, something has to be done?'. It's an understandable response from a team that has seen a season's hopes washed away in a moment of utter incompetence. 'It should be ok by one o'clock,' were the words of the grounds-person as she sat on the roller, beneath the squelching pitch. A strange call given the game actually starts at 10am. Perhaps someone should have informed her of the earlier start time for a semi final. Or indeed the laws of the game that state that once the match has commenced, the playing surface is not to be touched under any circumstance. For isn't it only fair that each team is given the same wicket to play on?

Lennox know this only too well. Four years ago a South's protest saw Lennox Head stripped of their points after a stray horse damaged the wicket. Despite the fact that the umpire deemed the surface fit for play and the game was completed, the protest was upheld. I would ask you to pay particular attention to this case, as I believe it sets a president critical to the situation at hand. Fair and reasonable.

We are all aware of the massive bungle that occurred at Oakes oval. From the umpires, to the players, to the supporters who watched on in amazement, it was clear that something terrible had happened. This is not in question.

No-one meant for it to happen, but unfortunately it did. The wicket was ill-prepared and for that, something has to be done. Lennox Head players travelled to the ground expecting to find the same wicket they played on the previous afternoon. What they saw was something entirely different.

South Lismore had a home-ground responsibility for maintaining the wicket. If such rules were not in place, pitch tampering and lack of preparation would cripple the competition, and the spirit of the game. Precedents have been set. The laws of the game are in place.

The committee has a obligation to act on this as set by the ruling of South Lismore V Lennox Head 2000. That was a mid-season game. This is a semi-final. It is what we all worked for. To file away in the too hard basket is not good enough. The players deserve more.

Yours Sincerely,

Ben Petersen

Vice Captain Lennox Head Cricket Club 1st X1

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