Crawfords wake-up call is a relief

THE pressure from a three-year wait in the wings for a call-up to the NSW Country cricket team was lifted on Ballina all-rounder Brett Crawford at 8 o’clock yesterday morning.

The former Tintenbar-East Ballina captain was one of the first notified of his overdue selection in the 13-man team to contest the national championships at Albury Wodonga in January, with another call from selectors taken by Casino batsman Sam Irvine 30 minutes later.

They join Taree bowler Corey Shield as the only selected members of the North Coast team that failed to make the finals of the NSW Country championships on the Central Coast at the weekend.

The fact Crawford’s call-up woke him less than five hours after driving home from the Central Coast wasn’t a point of distraction before he headed off to work in Byron Bay.

“They could have woken me at five o’clock if they wanted,” a relieved Crawford said soon after hearing the news.

Crawford’s form with the bat, slamming unbeaten innings of 102 and 54, and a lightning 47 from 42 balls down south, had triggered the selectors nod, but ironically the display fell well short of the innings’ slammed three years ago when he was first overlooked.

It devastated the Ballina batsmen at the time and amazed local cricket officials.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m very excited about playing a big role in the national titles,” Crawford said.

“If they were starting tomorrow I’d be there.”

For Irvine it’s his fourth NSW Country assignment in as many years,although he was unable to play last year because of work commitments.

However, the 22-year-old has been recalled as an opening batsmen after playing at number three previously.

“It was a test they put on me at the Central Coast and an unbeaten 100 against Riverina probably proved a point,” he said.

However,he admitted to ‘plenty of anxious moments’ when the Central Northopening batsmen scored 150 and 100 against North Coast in their finalgame on Sunday.

The NSW Country team named yesterday is: JeffCook (captain), Aaron Flaherty, Tom Groth (all Central North); MichaelCoulter (Southern); Brett Crawford, Sam Irvine, Corey Shields (NorthCoast); Anthony Hobson, Andrew Mather, Simon Moore, Darren Whittingham(Newcastle); Kaine Harmsworth, Mike Harvey (Central Coast). Mark Curry(coach), Graeme Creighton (manager).

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