Quick Singles

THE war of words between the 'cursing cousins' ? don't you love tabloid headlines ? Andrew Firth and Darryl Simmons in the aftermath of Sunday's explosive Cotten Shield match shows what can happen when words used during 'the heat of battle' turn up on newspaper back pages.

The report from the game indicates that there is fault on both sides.

Firth and Simmons both pleaded provocation for their slanging match during and after the game, but in Quick Singles' view this is not good enough.

Team captains have a responsibility, spelled out in the Spirit of Cricket, which is the preamble to the laws of the game, to protect the game against such ugly incidents.

However, if the captains ? as appears the case in the report from the match ? are the ones carrying on like pork chops, then the match officials must step in to restore order.

Provoking teams by ignoring the conventions of the game and the resulting retaliation is a blight on both the game and the competition (the Cotten Shield) which has a long and honourable history.

nAUSTRALIAN singer/songwriter Paul Kelly used the phrase 'when rage ruled over sense' in Bradman, his hymn to Australian cricket, to describe a potential riot at Adelaide during the Bodyline series.

The same words could apply to the sentiments of Andrew's sledging of the Lower Clarence players.

His attack on Lower Clarence cricketers comes at a time when both associations are negotiating a combined first grade competition to begin as early as next year.

Andrew is on the right track when he alludes to the necessity of a combined competition, but denigrating one side is not the dip- lomatic way to go.

nLCCA president Kevin Styles says local cricketers are stunned at the senseless vandalism of their facilities, and suggests that these cricketers should take the view that this type of sledging is vandalism from inside the game.

"My gut feeling is that the greatest danger to our plans is this sort of entrenched parochialism that is out of date and which we can no longer afford," he said.

"We owe it to the kids to over- come this stupidity."

nIN reality the standard of cricket competition at both ends of the Clarence is dropping.

The premier league is a shadow of the eight-team competition ? five CRCA and three LCCA teams ? it was when it began in 1995-96.

It is time for a truly combined competition ? administered equally by the CRCA and LCCA ? to take its place.

The model for this competition is already in place.

The combined Under-16 competition has rejuvenated the game in this age division in two ways.

Combining the Grafton and Lower River teams has broadened the player base and the innovative scheduling of Friday afternoon games has made playing cricket more appealing to an age group increasingly being lost to cricket.

nSCHEDULING games away from the weekend is continuing in lower age groups with Under-14 games moving to Thursday nights.

Once again this frees up congested weekend schedules for families and takes the pressure off overburdened cricket grounds.

It also mirrors what is happening these days as the weekend is losing its 'sacred' status as a time to play sports and relax.

nIT is great to see the Clarence River Fishermen's Co-operative SixA-Side tournament going ahead this weekend.

In these days of Twenty20 cricket it's good to be reminded there are other abbreviated forms for the game with an outstanding history of success.

The Hong Kong Sixes ? with which Kevin has an intimate acquaintance ? is one of the premier cricket events in world.

nTHE globe-trotting LCCA supremo, whose last six months have been punctuated by regular business trips to Hong Kong, has discovered travel is not conducive to playing cricket.

He managed to score four consecutive ducks when he managed to get on the field, two 'international ducks' in Hong Kong and a couple of local quacks as well.

nONE of Kevin's visits to Honkers did coincide with one of the more remarkable displays of big hitting in world cricket ? Adnan Butt's astonishing innings of 311 in which he hit 36 sixes on the admittedly tiny Hong Kong Cricket Club ground.

Kevin said the display of hitting, which sent balls spiraling into the neighbouring tennis courts and onto a freeway outside the ground, had he and the club president diving for the club's insurance documents.

They feared that the number of possible public liability claims could send the club broke.

In Black and White

LAST week ING Cup umpire Darren Goodger asked: If a captain is not available during the period in which the toss for innings must take place, who is allowed to make the toss and what else must this person do prior to the actual toss?

The answer is: Anyone can make the toss ? it does not have to be a nominated team member. Prior to the toss being made this person must nominate the team he is making the toss for.

For next week Darren asks: a spinner is bowling with a number of close in fielders. The batsman plays the ball down into the ground and the ball spins back towards the stumps. To protect his wicket the batsman flicks the ball away, to a short leg who catches the ball and appeals for the catch. What is your decision.?

In Black and White is brought to you with the compliments of the NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, local contact Paul McErlean 66423815.

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