While it’ll take a monumental effort there is real hope that, following the carnival, both of the Veterans Cricket NSW Over-50 State Championships’ trophies could end up residing in Western Zone for the next 12 months.
Orange, Bathurst and Molong are hosting the three-day carnival which officially starts on Sunday, with the Canobolas Cougars and Western Wildfires set to turn out red-hot sides in a bid to claim their respective division one and two titles.
The two sides are chock-a-block full of players who represented NSW at last year’s national titles, also hosted here, including former Orange City skipper Bruce Tom and Kinross’ Stu Crisp, who’s still playing in Orange District Cricket Association’s top grade.
They’ll both front for the Orange and Molong-based Cougars, the former as skipper, with that side also boasting the likes of David Hobbs, Greg Pringle and Allan Hubbard, while former Waratahs captain Steve Priest is named as well.
Wildfires skipper Kim Taylor will have the likes of Bathurst District Cricket Association stars Percy Raveneau and Craig Windus at his disposal, with the remainder of the side coming from Bathurst and Lithgow too.
Essentially being the hosts, or at least being familiar with the conditions, will be a big benefit for the Cougars, as is the fact most of the side is still playing week-in-week-out.
“I think I’m the only one still playing first grade and a few haven't played in some time but most have been playing lower grade cricket,” Crisp said, with a number of the Cougars outfit regularly playing in Molong’s competition.
“The standard of over 50s is variable, some players were guns when they were younger and have still got the skills and some of it is guys coming together to have fun.”
The Cougars’ formation takes both those factors into account, Crisp explained. He, Tom and Hobbs all fronted for the Wildfires at last year’s tournament but thought forming a second Western Zone-based side would “be a good opportunity for a few friends to play together”.
The Cougars face Riverina Pride in their division one opener on Sunday at Molong’s Dr Ross Memorial Recreation Oval.
Riverina’s a perennially strong outfit that includes John Grimble, who won NSW Premier Cricket’s O’Reilly Medal for player-of-the-year back in 1987-88.
After that division one’s Monday and Tuesday games will be determined by results, with the likes of Port Jackson, Central Coast and Tamworth also in the top flight.
The Wildfires take on the Earlwood Wanderers at Bathurst’s George Park first-up and then the Mid North Coast Mudskippers on day two at Jack Brabham 2, with division two’s third day’s fixtures then decided by rankings.
The tournament also boasts an exhibition Twenty20 clash for the first time, with City facing Country for the McDonald’s Shield at Wade Park from 6pm.
The NSW sides to travel to Perth for November’s national championships will also be selected following the state carnival, which is the focal point of the selection process.
All three days’ games start at 10am.
- CANOBOLAS COUGARS: Joseph Clayton, Stu Crisp, Craig Dunn, Allan Hubbard, Charlie Harvey, David Hobbs, Rod Jones, Brett Johnson, Scott Oats, Steve Priest, Greg Pringle, Peter Tattersal, Bruce Tom ©, Rohan Wilson
- WESTERN WILDFIRES: Michael Byrne, Tony Burrows, Steve Cronin, Dave Glasson, Bill Hall, Dave Hartley, Greg Kitchner, Paul Felton, Clint Taylor, Percy Raveneau, Richard Sharp, Kim Taylor ©, Clive White, Craig Windus