Launching pad at Lismore for Australian cricketers
LONG before he was taking Test Match wickets for Australia, fast bowler Josh Hazlewood had his first taste of junior representative cricket in Lismore.
Hazlewood is not alone with current Australian top-order batsman Usman Khawaja and excitement machine David Warner also taking part at the carnival many years ago.
The trio are at the top of the list of current state and Australian players who continued on from the Lismore Workers Club Under-12 carnival.
Other players include Ben Cutting, Peter Forrest, Stephen O'Keefe and the late Phillip Hughes.
Local products Tom Cooper and Brendan Drew also took part in the carnival before going on to play state cricket.
The Cooper family is still tied up with the carnival with Tom's mother Berni Cooper taking on the coordinator role in recent years.
Clunes cricketer and former NSW middle-order batsman Matthew Phelps played in the inaugural carnival 33 years ago before returning as a coach in 2014.
The four-day carnival starts January 4 with 20 junior teams getting the chance to play on turf wickets around Lismore.
More than 200 of the best young cricketers from across New South Wales and southern Queensland play a round robin series of 25, 30 and 40 over matches, with the final at Oakes Oval.
Northern Districts won the carnival for the first time last year when it beat Manly in the final.
Far North Coast claimed the title back in 2007 and has entered at least two teams every year since.
Lismore Workers Club and Lismore City Council have been the major sponsors of the event for a number of years, helping make it the biggest under-12 carnival on Australia's east coast.
The carnival always brings additional money to Lismore when a lot of local people are away on Christmas holiday.
Meanwhile, the LJ Hooker Under-13 carnival will also run at Ballina in the first week of January.
The five-day carnival starts January 2. The final will be at Fripp Oval.
In a busy few weeks for junior cricketers, there is also carnivals at Armidale, Tamworth and Taree for other age divisions.