Tough Jacob bowls in
BARLOWS Bolt Barn opening bowler Jacob Stephenson was advised to not play cricket for 10-12 weeks after fracturing a cheek bone before Christmas.
He required 34 stitches in total along with seven screws and two plates that were inserted.
But he took the field just a few days after his operation.
This sort of toughness will come in handy for his side at 7.30 tonight at Fripp Oval, Ballina.
That is because his side will take on the might of the undefeated Northern Star in the Ballina District Cricket Twenty20 final.
Stephenson was injured in a backyard accident, not by copping a thunderbolt to the face while batting.
"I was mucking around at a mate's house on the trampoline," he said.
"I tried to do a double flip but my face landed on the metal bar.
"I was sitting in hospital so keen just to play again.
"My teammates gave me a few nicknames about it including plate face and tramp.
"There were some other crude ones in there too.
"Mum was a bit worried about it but there was no pain."
Stephenson, who is just 16 and already plays for Tintenbar-East Ballina in the LJ Hooker League, has enjoyed a stellar summer.
He hit his first Hooker League half century (60) against the Ballina Bears in November and has taken nine wickets in the same competition.
This led to him representing North Coast at Bradman Cup under-16 level.
The Southern Cross, Ballina K-12 student has only played the game for four years but "wants to move to Brisbane and play for the Queensland Bulls one day".
His father Peter was a state and national 100m track champion and Stephenson has also excelled as a runner - he has competed at NSW Allschools level.
"We're a pretty sporty family," he said. Stephenson's Barlows Bolt Barn captain Shane Jacobs is delighted to have the gifted young player on his team.
"He's one of the first players I'd pick," he said.
"He has a lot of talent, listens to everything you say and works hard.
"He gets in and has a good hit before every game."
And Stephenson does this despite getting up at 5.30am to work as a greenkeeper at the Ballina RSL then going to school.
Jacobs believes with dynamic opening batsman Nathan Anson back in their side for tonight's match against Northern Star, it should be a tight tussle.
He did not play in Bolt Barn's only loss this season against the Stars.
"Nathan's a big part of our batting but other guys like our allrounders Brad Robertson and Adam Gordon have shown they can do it too," he said.
"Anyone who can score a hundred like Nathan did (102 not out in the semi-final against Davey Pumps) is doing very well.
"The Stars have a good top order so we need to bowl tight and go after some early wickets."
Northern Star's Sam Adams also showed how dangerous he can be with the bat after he blazed 94 in his side's semi-final against the Shaws Bay Hotel.
His believes his side has the batting depth to cover the threat of Anson.
"Our opening batsmen Kristiaan Ezzy and George Fleming always seem to get us off to a good start," he said.
"It should be a good game.
"Both sides are capable of scoring around the 200 mark."
The allrounder also backed his bowlers.
"Steve Prosser has done pretty well with the new ball and (spinner) Barry Phipps has taken wickets by throwing up the ball and enticing the batsmen to go for it," Adams said.
Adams believes the coin toss will be crucial, indicating he would love to bat first.