Bears are preparing for cricket hibernation
BALLINA Bears are slowly building to the future with several key players closing in on retirement in Far North Coast LJ Hooker League cricket.
Wet weather looks certain to play a part this weekend with Bears scheduled to play Cudgen in a two-day game at Reg Dalton Oval, Kingscliff.
Bears have been held together in recent years by batsmen Toby Hordern and Justin Moore, along with all-rounders Sam Adams and Ben Carruthers.
Adams has changed the way he plays, developing into an opening bowler that gets through plenty of overs, while Hordern has hung around to ensure the team has depth in the top order.
Moore still has plenty to offer but work commitments meant he relinquished the captaincy to 26-year-old Luke Hall midway through last season.
"Some of these guys have played a lot of cricket and we realised that we needed to have an exit strategy in place,” Ballina coach Phil Melville said.
"Toby will probably be the first one to go at the end of the season while others are a bit up in the air with what they're doing.
"We've tried our best to bring juniors up through the club and we've done a bit of recruiting so we don't reach a crisis point.”
One of those recruits is Ryan Lee who was a Marist Brothers junior and has been opening the bowling with Adams.
The pair have taken 30 wickets between them this season while Hall sits behind Hordern, Moore and wicket keeper-batsman Sam Burdock as the highest run-scorer.
"I'd like to see Luke bat for a bit longer, he's definitely heading in the right direction though,” Melville said.
"Ryan is a great kid, he's only 20 and we're hoping to hold on to him.
"We've been a bit hard on our bowlers in recent years but we've managed to bowl plenty of teams out this year and it's an area we've improved.
"We certainly don't fear anyone in the competition and we've prepared as if we are playing this weekend.”
A likely washout would see the round played as one-dayers next weekend.
All roads then would lead to Marist Brothers in the final round the following week with Bears needing a win at home to secure a finals spot.
In other games today, Casino takes on Tintenbar-East Ballina at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.
Marist Brothers host Murwillumbah at Nielson Park, Lismore, and Pottsville plays Alstonville at Seabreeze Oval, Pottsville.
Lennox Head 51
Tintenbar-East Ballina 34
Ballina Bears 32
Casino Cavaliers 30
Marist Brothers 18