By TONY WHITE
THERE'S nothing like a touch of friendly rivalry and banter between the sexes to liven up proceedings at a State indoor cricket training session.
Over the weekend the NSW Under-18 boys and Under-16 girls State squads gathered at Grafton's Indoor Cricket and Sports Centre in preparation for upcoming tournaments.
At the end of individual training sessions and following a bit of goading, the two teams matched off in a muck-around fun game.
"It was a bit of a light-hearted grudge match," girls Under-16 coach David Whitby said. "Some of the girls aren't shy in coming forward and the boys obliged.
"I reckon the girls held their own.
"It was also a good chance for them to see what it's like at the next level."
Under-18s boys coach, Grafton Indoor Cricket Centre manager and Australian representative Andrew Firth, missed most of the match due to commitments on another field but said the fun game 'was a good experience for all of them'.
Five girls from the Clarence Valley -- captain Kara Sutherland (South High), vice captain Amanda Whitby (St Andrews), Melanie Cowan (St Andrews), Nicole Carlon (Maclean) and Stephanie Honeybrook (Maclean) -- are members of the State Under-16 development squad.
The remainder of the squad is made up of players from Port Macquarie, Wauchope, Kempsey and Sydney.
Whitby and Cowan were members of last year's State squad.
The team is scheduled to play against Queensland and other development squads in Coffs Harbour on June 11, 12 and 13.
Before departing the squad will play the Wauchope Ladies Super League side in Port Macquarie on May 28.
Firth, Grafton's three-time outdoor Cricketer of the Year, is enjoying his first stint as a State coach.
"Yeah, it's been great. The team is shaping up well," he said. "We played against Coffs Harbour in Coffs on Saturday night but after the long bus trip they were a bit flat.
"On Sunday the team played Grafton Mens No 1, the Northern NSW Super League champions.
"They turned up to play this time and batted and fielded very well.
"I'm sure they learned a lot from it. It was a good experience for them."
The team will travel to Mackay, Queensland, for the Australian Titles on May 20-29.