HEAT IS ON: FNC Heat players (from left) Zayd Thomas, Sam Johnston, Matt Bradshaw, Bailey Engler and Riley Gregor present a united front as they prepare to impress at the Ballina Junior Cricket Carnival starting today.
HEAT IS ON: FNC Heat players (from left) Zayd Thomas, Sam Johnston, Matt Bradshaw, Bailey Engler and Riley Gregor present a united front as they prepare to impress at the Ballina Junior Cricket Carnival starting today. Stuart Turner

Ballina kids taking inspiration from Ashes

THEY have spent the summer watching Mitchell Johnson and company terrorise the Poms - now Sam Johnston and his FNC Heat team-mates are out to make an impact themselves.

The Heat is one of the 16 sides contesting this year's Ballina Under-13 Carnival, which gets started today.

Fairy Hill-based paceman Sam and his team-mates will take on opponents from across the state in the round-robin tournament.

The 12-year-old said he was aiming to take his inspiration from Johnson, who has blitzed England with his superb bowling during this summer's Ashes series.

"He was out of the game and then he came back strong," Sam, who attends Casino's St Mary's High School, said. "It shows that if you work hard you can do anything.

"I like how you get to run in hard (as a paceman). Sometimes you can bowl a bouncer and try and intimidate the batsman. You might get in trouble if you don't do it right, though.

"I'm probably more like Ryan Harris (though); putting it more on a good line and length.

"I'm looking forward to hopefully taking some wickets, my team going well and having some fun."

Teams from the Newcastle, the Central Coast and Sydney will contest the event, which has become one of the regular dates on the region's summer calendar.

Sam, who played in last year's Lismore Under-12 Carnival, said he enjoyed facing some unfamiliar foes at the five-day carnival.

"I like these carnivals because you get to play against different opponents," he said.

"Most of the teams have one really good player so it's a challenge to get them out."

Those sentiments were echoed by team-mate Reece Gregor, from Goonellabah.

The 12-year-old, who counts Australian all-rounder Shane Watson among his favourite players, is looking forward to going for his shots at the carnival.

"I like getting the singles and rotating the strike," he said.

"I'm aiming for my team to go well and to have some fun as well."

Team coach Scott Johnston said he was anticipating a lively and enjoyable competition.

"Last year you couldn't hear yourself think at lunch as the kids were talking so much," he said. "They had a ball.

"Most of them play against each other in the Saturday competitions so this is a good chance for them to play with each other in a different environment.

"I'm quietly confident they will win a couple of matches and go well."



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