'THEY?VE BEEN DUDDED'
By STEVE SPINKS
FOR Lennox Head cricket captain Shaun Savage and his side, the weekend's Far North Coast LJ Hooker League semi-final against Southern Districts represented a milestone in the club's history.
It was the first time the seasiders had contested a Hooker League semi-final.
Unfortunately, Lennox Head's first semi-final experience left the players with a bitter taste in their mouths after a massive bungle by Lismore City Council ground staff robbed them of any chance of contesting the final this weekend.
Cricketers from both sides were dumbfounded yesterday morning when they turned up to start the second day of the match at 10am and the pitch was wet.
Not only had the Oakes Oval wicket been watered mid-match, but one end was saturated.
"The umpires delayed the start for an hour," Savage told The Northern Star.
"But if you poked your finger in the pitch there was an indent straight away.
"One end was all right but the other end was just ridiculous.
"The ball was popping off a good length and every wicket (seven) that fell on Sunday was at that end.
"I got out trying to shoulder arms off a good length and the ball popped up, hit my elbow and fell on to the wicket."
The wicket was unaffected by water when Souths made 165 on Saturday.
Lennox Head had started their run chase and were 3-51 overnight before losing 7-19 to be all out for 79 on Sunday.
Lennox Head intend making a complaint to the FNCHooker League committee.
"We're not expecting the result to change and we definitely don't hold Souths responsible," Savage said.
"But it's just not good enough for an A-grade semi-final."
Oakes Oval was not the only wicket watered.
The other Hooker League semi-final between Norths-Goonellabah RSL and Tintenbar-East Ballina was affected, while Lismore reserve grade wickets at Blair Oval and Richards Oval were also watered overnight.
"I feel real sorry for the Lennox Head blokes and it's a hollow feeling for us," Souths captain Richard Nind said.
"They toiled hard yesterday (Saturday) and it looked like being a really close game.
"It's a ridiculous situation.
"It's embarrassing for Lismore cricket for these blokes to come up from Lennox Head and get that ... they've been dudded.
"It wouldn't want to happen next week."
Norths-Goonellabah RSL captain Adam Osborne, whose team lost to Tintenbar-East Ballina, was also upset at the overnight work at Heaps Oval.
"The pitch was nothing like the wicket they (Tintenbar) played on the day before," he said.
"By lunch it had dried out a bit, but by then the damage had been done."