Lets beat the Kiwis
By ADAM HICKS
THEY may be English but Josh Fleming and Luke Barnard have one thing in common with Australian cricket fans ... they like to beat New Zealand.
Stand-out performances for Ballina Bears in the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League have won the pommy imports selection in the combined Ballina and Lismore Under-19s representative side to play the touring Canterbury Country Development XI in a day-nighter at Oakes Oval, Lismore, today from 2.30pm.
Despite the 5-0 Ashes thrashing of his countrymen, opening batsman Fleming said he still supported Australia in trans-Tasman clashes.
"My desire to beat New Zealand is not quite the same, but I'd rather us (Ballina/Lismore) win than them," he said.
"I support the Aussies apart from when they're playing against England."
After proving crucial additions the Bears' first- grade team, the pair were among six juniors nominated by Ballina District Cricket Association to join six top Lismore juniors for today's 50-over clash.
Fleming, 18, averages 29.56 with the bat and holds the highest individual knock of the Hooker League season with 121 against Byron-Brunswick in the fifth round.
And despite missing the first three rounds, Barnard, 19, is the league's fifth highest wicket-taker, averaging three wickets a match with 18 scalps from six outings.
The left-arm orthodox spinner was instrumental in the Bears' past two games, producing devastating spells to wreck the Cudgen and Casino Cavaliers' quality batting orders.
He took three top-order wickets against Cudgen, and snared 4-26 from five overs against Casino last week.
"I've been going all right, I suppose," he said.
But his good mate Fleming is not as modest.
"Luke has just ruined the batsman," he said.
"He has come on and changed the game. We've been in good situations so they've been looking to attack but he's been putting it in the right area and making it hard for them.
"I'd say it's good bowling rather than bad batting."
Fleming and Barnard are no strangers to representative cricket, having played for the Sussex Under 17 team in the England County Championship.
But today's clash is the first time either has played under lights with a white ball.
"I've never played under lights or at Oakes. I've heard it's really nice though so I'm looking forward to it," Fleming said.
The pair were invited to play for Ballina by Bears batsman Toby Hordern, who spent last summer with their home club, Sussex County League side Roffey.
"I'd never heard of Ballina before I met Toby," Barnard said.
"I've had a good time here. A big party, good cricket as well and good people."
Team coach Shane Jacobs said the team would come together with limited preparation.
"They haven't trained together yet. They're will be a quick team bonding session before the match then away we go," he said.
"It will just be a quick fielding session to say g'day to each other.
"I'm sure there'll be a few nerves but every one is looking forward to the game.
"We have a few exciting cricketers. I think the Lismore-Ballina team is very strong. Not knowing much about the other team it's hard to say who will win, but we have a very talented team and I'm sure they'll rise to the occasion."
Lismore/Ballina team: Mitchell Pickford (c), Josh Fleming, Luke Barnard, Jake Nind, Matt Parish, Jeremy Cowin, Josh Mapstone, Matt Knapman, Jake Lewis, Kane Hamilton, Abe Crawford, Joel Rudgley, Adam Meade.