Season of ups and downs
By STEVE SPINKS
IT hasn't been an easy season for Lismore Eastern Districts cricket captain Bruce Jobson.
The veteran all-rounder has had to look on while his team has gone from Far North Coast LJ Hooker League premiership contenders to the point where they may miss the semi-finals for the first time in seven years.
However, Jobson can gain some consolation from leading the Greg Chappell Cricket Centre Far North Coast Player of the Year contest.
The right-hander is a four-point leader with only two rounds to play.
His closest competitors are Tintenbar-East Ballina all-rounder Brett Crawford and star Souths batsman Paul McLean.
Crawford won the award last season for a second time.
He is regarded as one of the best all-rounders to have played in the Hooker League since its inception in 1994-95, while McLean was a successful Sydney first-grade batsman before returning to Lismore.
If Jobson claims the trophy this year, it will be the second time he has won it.
The first time was in 1995-96.
The reasons behind Easts' demise from the premiership race are varied.
Their batting has been brittle, especially since boom colt Tom Cooper left to pursue his studies and cricket career at the University of NSW in Sydney.
It has left Jobson as the only consistent run-scorer in the line-up.
Bowling all-rounder Brett Ruttley has struggled with injury after starting the season in brilliant form, while leg-spinner Daniel Wells has left the district.
It left NSW Country paceman Ian Gregory as the spearhead of the attack and he has often been away on representative duty.
To add to Easts' woes, Jobson, who was one of the leading wicket-takers in the Hooker League last season, injured his shoulder playing for Far North Coast against East Asia Pacific in November and has been unable to bowl since.
Despite the loss of key personnel, Easts have found a way of still being in with a chance of claiming a semi-final position, and much of that has to do with Jobson's contribution at the top of the order.
To remain in the hunt, Easts must win their remaining matches against tough opponents ? the Casino Cavaliers and Norths-Goonellabah RSL.
Their clash with the Cavaliers at Heaps Oval will now be played as a one-dayer next Saturday following the closure yesterday of all Lismore turf wickets due to the rain this week.
If Easts do miss the semi-finals, it will be the first time since 1997-98.
Remarkably, in those six seasons the club has lost every semi-final, failing to make the final.
Two other Hooker League fixtures will revert to one-dayers next Saturday with the Lismore turf wickets closed.
They are Marist Brothers against Alstonville at Oakes Oval and Norths-Goonellabah RSL against Tintenbar-East Ballina at Nielson Park.
In other matches due to start today, Ballina Bears take on Workers at Fripp Oval, Ballina; and Souths tackle Lennox Head at Saunders Oval, Ballina.
Points: Souths 48, Norths-Goonellabah RSL 38, Tintenbar-East Ballina 35, Lennox Head 34, Casino Cavaliers 31, Ballina Bears 28, Easts 28, Workers 24, Marist Brothers 15, Alstonville 10.
n All Lismore reserve grade cricket today is also off.
Player of the Year points
LEADING Greg Chappell Cricket Centre Player of the Year points:
14 Bruce Jobson (Easts).
10 Brett Crawford (Tintenbar-East Ballina), Paul McLean (Souths).
9 Shaun Savage (Lennox Head), Len Blok (Souths).
8 Michael Knight (Workers).
7 Steve Arnett (Marist Brothers).
6 Adam Shields (Casino Cavaliers), Ian Gregory (Easts), Greg Potter (Alstonville).
5 Al Nowlan (Casino Cavaliers), Steve Lockhart (Norths-Goonellabah RSL), Brad Walker (Norths-Goonellabah RSL), Todd Fisher (Lennox Head), Luke Shay (Tintenbar-East Ballina)
4 Mark Bratti (Casino Cavaliers), Les McGuire (Workers), Brendan Davis (Ballina Bears), Shaun Buckett (Lennox Head), Pat Foran (Marist Brothers), Jake McKinnon (Easts).
3 Paul Everingham (Lennox Head), Paul Fredericks (Souths), Sam Irvine (Casino Cavaliers), Adam Gadowski (Marist Brothers), Richard Nind (Souths), Scott Coster (Souths), Nathan Bonamy (Norths-Goonellabah), Josh Slater (Ballina Bears), Martin Tucker (Easts), Ben Legzdins (Lennox Head), Glen Watkins (Lennox Head), Mark Newstead (Tintenbar-East Ballina), Lee Barnett (Ballina Bears), Andrew Gordon (Ballina Bears), Adam Gordon (Ballina Bears), Phil Dalli (Tintenbar-East Ballina).