NSW Blues players Aaron Bird (left) and team-mate Phillip Hughes joke around on arrival in Lismore yesterday.
NSW Blues players Aaron Bird (left) and team-mate Phillip Hughes joke around on arrival in Lismore yesterday.

Blues vs Bushrangers at Festival

IT'S been a long and winding road to get here but when the NSW SpeedBlitz Blues and Victorian Bushrangers shape-up in the opening game of Lismore's Festival of Cricket today they should all know each other a little better.

The two State cricket teams flew into Brisbane yesterday and then boarded a bus together bound for Lismore.

While the players got to mingle and chat on the three-hour trip south all that camaraderie will fly out the window when they toss the coin at the start of today's 50-over match at Oakes Oval starting at 2pm.

While the NSW team was always going to be missing most of its Australian stars, the team that takes the field today will also be minus Simon Katich and Dave Warner, who won't be available until tomorrow's one-dayer against Tasmania.

It matters not which teams runs out for NSW, according to Dominic Thornley, it's all good practice for the upcoming Champions League in India next month.

“Every time the NSW cricket team plays there is a lot of responsibility and tradition that comes with that,” Thornley said.

“It doesn't matter what team we field it's the same kind of attributes. It's great that we've got a few of our Aussie players back but a few of them are still overseas and will join up with us in India.”

While many of NSW's Ashes tourists deserve a rest, the rest of the squad are jumping out of their skins to get some time in the middle after completing an exhaustive pre-season.

“It's all about getting time in the middle as a batter, time under your belt as a bowler, sharpening your fielding skills, as well as dusting off a few cobwebs,” Thornley said.

“We've done a lot of fitness work in the off-season as a group and we are as fit as we can be at the start of the season so from our point of view we just want to start playing some cricket in some warm weather.”

Escaping Melbourne's infamous wet weather for a week of cricket in a warm climate was also uppermost on Victorian spinner Jon Holland's mind.

“Everything has been indoors in Melbourne with the weather so we are looking for some good weather and some good competition,” he said.

“Every time we go out and play we are looking to win and that's what we will be aiming to do here and to prepare for the Twenty20 tournament in India.”

The Festival of Cricket program includes: NSW v Victoria 50-over match today from 2pm to 10pm; NSW v Tasmania 50-over match tomorrow from 2pm to 10pm; Tasmania v Victoria Twenty20 match Thursday from 10am to 2pm; Tasmania v Victoria 50-over match Friday from 10am to 6pm; NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Saturday from 5.30pm to 9.30pm; NSW v Tasmania Twenty20 match Sunday from 10.30am to 2.30pm; NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Sunday from 3.30pm to 7.30pm; NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Sunday from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.

  • The Northern Star is running a promotion at all games where you can pick up a paper and the program for $2.

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