Tweed pair will boost North Coast
THE North Coast representative cricket team travelling to Newcastle for the NSW Country championships starting tomorrow will include Tweed players for the first time in almost 20 years.
Cudgen No 3 batsman Tait Burns and his Hooker League teammate, opening bowler Michael Anderson, will bolster a line-up that includes Far North Coast players Toby Hordern (Ballina Bears), Steve Robb (Alstonville) and captain Brett Crawford (Tintenbar-East Ballina).
But in order to make the final, North Coast will need to beat defending champions Newcastle, Central North and Western, the team they lost to last year.
These northern zone pool games will finish on Sunday with the final against the southern pool winner to be played the following Sunday at a venue to be confirmed.
The powerful Newcastle batting line-up includes recent double-century maker Simon Moore, former Australian Under-19representative Pat Darwen, the destructive Kaine Harmsworth and captain Mark Littlewood.
"Some of the guys in that team have no respect," Far North Coast LJ Hooker League chairman Ian Rowlings said.
"On their day, it doesn't matter who's bowling, they'll still hit the ball a long way."
Despite the threat that Newcastle poses, Crawford believes his team is capable of going a long way.
The Tintenbar-East Ballina all-rounder acted as the Far North Coast selector for the side, which takes in the best cricketers available from Taree to the Queensland border.
"Last year we didn't win a game and we struggled for the three days," he said.
"But Mick Anderson and Tait Burns are good additions.
"Mick has previously played for Queensland Country.
"If we can beat Newcastle on the first day, I think we can go all the way to the final."
Crawford's team lost by only two wickets to Western last year.
"They hit the ball hard and are aggressive with the bat," he said.
"But they had a guy do well, his last name is Moran - he won't be playing this year."
Western has controversially included Scottish Twenty20 international Craig Wallace (Orange) in its squad despite him having just arrived in Australia and having played only one representative trial.
"He's only here until Christmas so I don't think that's fair on the local players out there," Crawford said.
Crawford, who has been a central figure in North Coast teams for most of the past 10 years, said Robb stood out last season with his left-arm orthodox spin.
The last time North Coast won the NSW Country championship was five years ago with a team that included prolific Casino runscorers Sam Irvine and Sam Dietrich.