Tweed set to join cricket?s Hooker League

By ADRIAN MILLER

THE 2006-07 cricket season has been over for less than a week, but already plans are afoot to revamp the Far North Coast LJ Hooker (Ballina) League.

A proposal from the Tweed District Cricket Association asking to join the local comp has lobbed across the desks of Hooker League club delegates.

If accepted, it would radically overhaul cricket in the area. The proposal would involve five Tweed District clubs ? Pottsville, Murwillumbah, Cudgen, South Tweed and Terranora ? along with Brunswick-Byron, joining the 10 Hooker League teams to form a 16-team competition next season.

The proposal will be put to a meeting of Hooker League clubs tomorrow night before a decision is made by the Far North Coast Cricket Council next month.

Tweed was forced to go it alone this year, running its own first-grade competition after four years as part of the Gold Coast-Beenleigh Gabba Sports Cup.

However, with just five teams in the top grade, the district association is not sure the competition can survive alone and has decided to look to strengthen its position.

FNC Cricket Council spokesman John McMahon said the concept had to be accepted by local clubs.

"If the clubs don't go with the expanded concept, I really think it will be the death knell for cricket in Lismore," he said.

"Lismore did have six first-grade teams, now it has only five, and a few of the clubs are really struggling.

"Cricket on the Far North Coast needs a strong first-grade competition and possibly the only way to do that is to expand."

Thoughts as to how the competition would work are almost as varied as the number of clubs.

The first suggestion is to split the 16 clubs into a Northern Division, comprising the five Tweed clubs, Brunswick-Byron and two of Lennox Head, Tintenbar-East Ballina and Ballina Bears, and a Southern Division made up of the remaining Ballina District club and the other seven Hooker League teams.

The teams would meet once in two-day cricket and also play a crossover round of one-day games.

The semi-finals would then be made up of the leading two teams in each division, which would play off for the Far North Coast LJ Hooker League championship.

Another proposal would see the two divisions play one- and two-day matches against teams in their section, with the top two from each going through to the semi-finals, while another recommendation would have each division playing only two-day matches against teams in their division.

Or, similar to the Sydney grade competition, have one 16-team competition, which would mean some teams wouldn't play each other every season.

McMahon said the benefits of combining the premierships would far outweigh the negatives.

"The worst travelling would be Casino to South Tweed and that would only happen one every two years, but it would be a huge advantage playing different players every Saturday and far better than having an inbred competition," he said.

"There's an obligation which has to be made for our younger players and that is to play against as many players, and at the highest level, as possible.

"It'd be a dreadful thing if it didn't work."



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