QUICK Singles wishes readers all the best for the Festive Season, in a time of the year that, in Australia, at least, is almost with synonymous with cricket.
In the past 25 years the Boxing Day Test has become an Australian cultural icon, with either a day at the MCG, or in front of the telly watching the cricket, as much a part of the scenery as post-Christmas sales.
AMID all the celebrations, the news of the earthquakes and tsunamis that hit countries around Asia, certainly puts sport into perspective.
A report from Sri Lanka says that master spinner Muttiah Muralitharan had a close escape as the tsunami that flashed across the Indian Ocean hit the coastline near Colombo.
Another Test venue, the fortresstown of Galle, apparently packed with tourists taking in the sights of the historic city, went under water.
India and Sri Lanka both suffered tragically and as a mark of respect to the victims, have curtailed tours.
Yesterday the players and crowd at the MCG had a minute's silence for the victims and survivors of the disaster.
CASINO will host what is believed to be its first top class cricket match with an international flavour when West Australia take on East Asia Pacific at Queen Elizabeth Park No2 in January.
The two-day game on January 4 and 5 is part of the Australian Country Cricket Championships, which is being played primarily in Lismore in January.
Six teams -? West Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and East Asia Pacific -? will contest the championships to be played from January 3-15.
THE brown stuff certainly has hit the fan following the CRCA decision to strip competition points from Bananacoast Premier League teams Grafton District Services Club Brothers and East Royal Tavern for failing to cover pitches during the last game before Christmas.
Quick Singles hopes players settle down before the resumption of local cricket on January 8 and resist the temptation to pull out of the competition.
Covering pitches has been a hot topic for this column and it applauds administrators for following through on the rules they put in place.
It's understandable club officials become upset at losing hard-won competition points, but it comes back to taking responsibility for your actions.
Players who consistently failed to cover pitches, with expensive covers purchased for their benefit, forced the hand of administrators.
It is not their fault that the rules have been enforced.
ONE of the highlights of the local cricket season is drawing closer ? the visit of the touring Canterbury Colts team from New Zealand.
This team of aspiring players from 'across the ditch' has provided local players with some fantastic games of cricket, played in a keen, but friendly atmosphere.
Since the visits began in the late 1990s, the cricket has been matched by some equally entertaining off-field exploits from both the visitors and hosts.
WHILE on the topic of hosting, the visitors will spend two nights in Grafton, arriving at Ellem Oval on Wednesday, January 12.
People who have agreed to billet team members must meet the team at the Pavilion at Ellem Oval when the visitors arrive.
The next day the Kiwis will play a match against a CRCA representative team sprinkled liberally with some of the region's leading young players.
IT is perhaps unfortunate that Pakistan played these two Tests in the order they have.
If this was the first Test, it would have set up a great contest for the whole series.
As it is, they have come back so well at the MCG they could still set up decider in Sydney, weather permitting.
Cricket is a game where form fluctuates quickly.
A team is capable of collapsing in a heap against an opponent and then beating them next game.
You see it all levels of the game ? pundits developing a taste for the egg on their faces as written-off teams come back to trounce favour- ites.
In Black and White
LAST week ING Cup umpire Darren Goodger asked: A bowler delivers the ball that is hit in the air by the striker. The balls hits the square leg umpire on the shoulder and is then caught on the full by a fielder with the ball having never touched the ground. There is an appeal to the umpire at the bowler's end. What is his decision?
Answer: Give the striker out caught.
For next week, Darren asks: The tea interval is scheduled from 3.15pm - 3.30pm, but the last over before tea is not completed until 3.19pm. What time will play resume after tea?
In Black and White is brought to you with the compliments of the NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, local contact Paul McEr- lean 66423815.