Phelps keen to play on Oakes
By STEVE SPINKS
FORMER Clunes cricketer Matthew Phelps has fond memories of playing on Lismore's Oakes Oval.
As a teenager, Phelps scored plenty of runs on the ground for his club Southern Districts and Lismore junior teams before eventually heading to Sydney to continue his representative career.
Next month, more than a decade after he left, Phelps will return to Oakes Oval as part of the dominant NSW Pura Cup team that will take on Victoria in a four-day match.
Only injury or disaster could prevent him from coming.
Speaking from Coffs Harbour on Thursday, where he was promoting the NSW v Victoria ING Cup one-dayer ? scheduled for January 14, two days before the Pura Cup fixture in Lismore ? Phelps said he was looking forward to playing on his home ground.
"I'm certainly very excited about it," the 33-year-old said.
"Not too many cricketers get the chance to play a first-class match on their home ground.
"I'm looking forward to playing on my beloved Oakes Oval."
Phelps has overcome a slow start to the season with some good form in the past month.
He scored 133 against Tasmania at the SCG late last month and managed 62 against the highly-rated Queensland attack that contained former Australian representative pacemen Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel.
"It's always good to get some runs," Phelps said.
"I had a solid summer last season and it was great to get a hundred.
n Continued Page 114
From Back Page
"I was happy with the way I played against Queensland the other day and Clarke (Michael) and Katich (Simon) said it was probably a better attack than some they've played against for Australia.
"So that was a good for the confidence."
Since Katich and Clarke's demise from the Australian Test team, Phelps has found himself thrust back into the role of opener after spending most of the previous season going in at No3.
But a change in position doesn't worry the right-hander.
"It's just good to be in the side, to tell you the truth," he said.
"I opened a fair bit in my younger days when I first got into the NSW team."
Phelps has been educating his NSW team-mates on what to expect when they hit Lismore and Oakes Oval.
"There'll be a rope so the hill (around the boundary)won't be a factor," he chuckled.
"I've told them that generally the pitch is pretty good to bat on with good carry.
"Hopefully it won't seam around too much."
When asked if he'd prefer a turner, the Blues opener was uncommittal.
"Yes or no, I'm not sure," he said. "They have Warne and we have MacGill."