Kids flock to cricket
A RECORD number of players will turn out for the Lismore Under-12 cricket carnival in January.
The inclusion of champion Sydney team North Shore and Armidale brings the total of teams up to 18.
Current international and State players who were introduced to representative cricket in past Lismore carnivals include David Warner, Peter Forrest, Josh Hazelwood, Ben Cutting, Usman Khawaja and Stephen O'Keefe.
As well, local champions Tom Cooper and Brendan Drew who have played at top level made their debuts in the Lismore event.
With about 230 players and many parents in Lismore for five to seven days for the carnival, the economic benefits to Lismore are considerable.
"Eighteen teams is the most we've ever had and it's pretty good for the town at that time of year," carnival co-co-ordinator John McMahon said.
"The additional money comes into businesses at a time when a lot of local people are away on holidays just after Christmas.
"We've got the best grounds in NSW Country and certainly better than anything in the metropolitan area of Sydney because we can play seven of the nine games in the Lismore basin."
The Far North Coast Gold team won in 2007 but since then Central Coast have been unbeaten, although they shared the title with Illawarra in 2011 when the final was washed out.
Last season FNC Gold missed out on the semi-finals by a decimal point. But they could make amends in January with top players, including Jack Cooper who is the promising young brother of Tom Cooper, expected to be available.
Lismore City Council and Lismore Workers Club have been the major sponsors of the event for many years and the carnival is now the biggest U12 carnival on the east coast of Australia.
For the 30th annual carnival in 2014 Cricket NSW is being asked to dub the event the Australian East Coast U12 Cricket Championships.
Trials for the two FNC teams in the carnival will be held at the Goonellabah Sports Club cricket nets on November 25 from 9am to midday.
All current U12 Interdistrict or club players can attend the trials but those playing Interdistrict will receive preference in the selection process.
A similar Under-13 carnival will run in Ballina around the same time.