STRAIGHT BAT: Adam Rogers from Pottsville Cricket Club at bat against Alstonville in the 2013 LJ Hooker League.
STRAIGHT BAT: Adam Rogers from Pottsville Cricket Club at bat against Alstonville in the 2013 LJ Hooker League. Patrick Gorbunovs

Mur'bah, Terranora caught out by lack of cricket players

MURWILLUMBAH and Terranora Lakes have dropped out of the LJ Hooker League cricket competition, which begins tomorrow.

The clubs were unable to field a strong enough team to compete in the league, according to Far North Coast Cricket Council secretary and Ballina Bears player Ben Carruthers.

"The problem is, lots of the Tweed boys get snatched up by Palm Beach and clubs like that because they get paid," he said.

"We've had to shuffle the draw a bit, but it's a bit of a blessing in disguise.

"We're back to eight, so no bye games anymore."

Carruthers had little trouble picking this season's top teams.

"Looking at the ladder, I think the strongest teams are Cudgen, Lennox, Ballina and Alstonville. But I think Alstonville will really surprise everyone this year."

Carruthers believes Jason Caught and Terry Murpy will be the village's ones to watch.

Ballina, which was last year's premiership winner, is also firing on all cylinders.

In last season's final game, the side finished at 5-230 after dismissing the Lennox Head home side for 226 before stumps on Saturday's day one at Megan Crescent.

"As far as our team goes, we're still pretty solid," Carruthers said.

"We did lose a couple of players though, but we've picked up a couple of English imports."

Carruthers believes this season will be a cracker. "There's some tough sides in there. This round, and season, is really going to have some great cricket," he said.

Carruthers encouraged potential spectators to support the league and, in turn, regional cricket.

"I think cricket as a sport struggles," he said.

"Not just here, but across the country. It's no good.

"But the LJ Hooker League is considered one of, if not the best, country league in NSW."

Carruthers, and no doubt the whole Northern Rivers cricket community, would like to keep it that way.

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Round 1

Matches begin at 1pm.

Alstonville v Lennox Head at Hill Park, Alstonville.

Ben's pick: "A tough game, like all of them this round. I think Alstonville will have it because of their bowling depth."

Ballina Bears v Cudgen at Fripp Oval, Ballina.

Ben's pick: "I'd obviously love to say Bears, but Cudgen are a very strong side. It'll be close."

Pottsville v Marist Brothers Lismore at Seabreeze Oval, Pottsville.

Ben's pick: "Another tough call, but probably the Brothers."

Tintenbar-East Ballina v Casino Golf Club Cavaliers at Kingsford Smith Oval, Ballina.

Ben's pick: "I'm leaning towards Casino, but this one is really too tough to pick. I don't know."

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