Twenty20 may be answer
NATHAN Anson knows cricket is losing ground to the football codes.
He knows many kids now support the Gold Coast Titans rather than the Queensland Bulls.
That is why he is embracing the Ballina Twenty20 cricket idea.
Anson's Ballina Bolt Barn side will line up against Davey Pumps at 4.30pm today at Fripp Oval in the first match of the inaugural Ballina Twenty20 competition.
Anson, 35, realises cricket on the Far North Coast is not as popular as it once was.
"I hope this concept grows because playing under the new lights should be awesome," he said.
"Hopefully it will be like the local footy - you can come and watch with your mates and have a beer because it won't go for too long."
Anson looks back on the state of cricket in the 1990s with fond memories and believes the game now lacks the same appeal.
"In the 1990s you had Australian and NSW players like Mark Taylor and the Waugh twins come out to towns like Grafton and Lismore to play in the Country Cup," he said.
"There'd be crowds of up to 6000.
"It gave young cricketers from the country some people to aspire to but it doesn't happen any more.
"Now we get the Titans come down to Lismore to play trial games and lots of kids look up to them as their heroes - they want to play rugby league instead of cricket.
"But hopefully the Twenty20 concept gets bigger and we can use that as a way to start attracting top players to country areas again."
Even at senior grade cricket level, Anson has seen a steady decline in the quality of competition.
Anson played Sydney first grade for Balmain and Gordon, and for Gold Coast in the Brisbane comp.
He also helped Ballina Bears win the LJ Hooker League in 2008-09.
"I went into Sydney grade level when Australian cricket was the strongest it's ever been," he said.
"You had guys like Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and the Waughs playing for Australia so you'd get quality filtering back.
"I played against Michael Bevan, the Waughs and Brad McNamara, and Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken were in my age group.
"You had guys like Michael Hussey who needed to score thousands of first class runs before finally making it for Australia.
"Now, guys are getting starts in the Aussie team and they haven't even proven themselves.
"I think that's because a lot of guys my age just aren't hanging around to play like they used to."