Boost for cricket festival
LISMORE City Council has been buoyed by the announcement of two near full-strength State sides for next month's Festival of Cricket.
The sighs of relief could be heard from the council's Goonellabah headquarters when Tasmania and Victoria released their squads for the September 22 to 30 event with only a handful of Australian representatives missing.
There had been fears that with the Australian team due to play in the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa from September 22 to October 5 that the Lismore event, which includes a number of Twenty20 and one-day fixtures, could be short of household names.
With the council backing the event the possibility of losing money could have turned into a political disaster.
However, Tasmania, and in particular Victoria, have named stronger than expected squads for the pre-season hit-out.
The only notable exception from the Bushrangers squad of 16 is paceman Peter Siddle, while Australian representatives such as Cameron White, Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Andrew McDonald, Bryce McGain and Shane Harwood have all been named.
As expected, the 16-man Tasmania squad will be missing captain Ricky Ponting, swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus and exciting young wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine but former Australian off-spinner Jason Krejza and paceman Brett Geeves will play.
Former Alstonville quick Brendan Drew has also made the Tasmanian squad.
“Obviously these squads are all subject to form, fitness and availability but these are good squads,” council events co-ordinator John Bancroft said.
“You're never 100 per cent sure of who will be coming because there could be four injuries to the Australian squad tomorrow but they're the squads we've been told they intend to bring.
“When you see the likes of Hodge, Hussey and White coming, that's great for the festival and there are plenty of familiar names in the Tasmanian crew as well.
“It's definitely great that the local boy (Drew) is coming and I'm sure he'll have a lot of support but there is also good performers like Travis Birt, Ed Cowan and Dan Marsh.
“These are quality teams with a heap of players who have represented Australia so the States are certainly not sending up a bunch of second-stringers.
“We're very happy with the squads so far and really the worth of being able to watch these teams for $12.50 for an outer ticket is pretty good.”
The only thing that could possibly change the squads is the 15-man Australian Champions Trophy squad which is due to be named by this Sunday.
The NSW squad for the Festival of Cricket is expected to be announced next week.
One interesting addition to the Victorian squad is former English Test player Darren Pattinson.
Pattinson, who was born in England but raised in Australia, made headlines last year after being sensationally plucked from County cricket to play for England.
Unfortunately, he only played one Test as he was dropped following a loss to South Africa.
Despite taking 2-95 in his debut, and far from being the worst performed bowler, his selection was widely panned by a host of former England captains such as Ian Botham, Nassar Hussein and Graham Gooch.