Clarence River captain steps up to next level
AS BRIEF as it seemed, the solitary appearance for Coffs Coast Chargers in the Plan B Regional Big Bash was enough to put Jake Kroehnert’s name in front of North Coastal selectors.
The statewide twenty20 knockout was rolled out for the first time this year. Kroehnert top scored on 38 not out for the Chargers – made up of players from the four associations of North Coast Cricket Council – in a seven-wicket loss to Northern Rivers Rock – made up of players from Ballina, Tweed, Lismore and surrounds.
At the time, it hardly seemed worth it for the Clarence River captain and fellow Charger Ben McMahon from Lower Clarence, who both missed the coveted Cotten Shield clash between the rival associations to play in the new format.
But it did somewhat serve as an effective selection trial – with Kroehnert selected to represent the North Coastal team at the McDonald’s Country Championships (North) at Gunnedah this weekend.
“The T20 show at Coffs Harbour put his name in the mix,” said Clarence River Cricket Association president Tom Kroehnert.
“It has been a pathway for Jakey to be looked at and put his name forward for that side.
“It’s good to see a bloke from here have a go. Now I’d just like to see him get a go.”
Whether it be due to a lack of interest from the Valley’s top players or a seemingly short-sighted view from selectors, Kroehnert will be the first Clarence River cricketer to play in the side in several years.
Perhaps the new Regional Big Bash finally gave players from these districts a chance to show their wares directly to the Northern Rivers-based selectors, and having a truly North Coastal outfit could mean the zone finally starts to challenge for the Country title.
In recent years there has been a noticeable dearth of players hailing from south of the Clarence to the Manning. The fact Clarence River won the NSW Country Shield in 2014/15 – the same competition Ballina won the previous season – is proof the region does have quality cricketers. Similarly Coffs Harbour reached the Country Cup semi-finals last season and Lower Clarence is consistently competitive against those sides in the Inter-District competition.
“I think the process could probably be improved,” Tom Kroehnert said. “But as long as I can remember it’s been pretty similar. I think in the dark old days two or three would be picked from each region, but those days are gone.”
Kroehnert’s disciplined batting at number four played a major role in the Clarence River’s NSW Country Shield success in 2014/15, which saw the representative side nominated for the Yamba Physiotherapy Team of the Year to be announced at this Friday’s Clarence Valley Sports Awards at Maclean Services Club.