Russell and Terri Ellem at the Clarence River Cricket Association end-of-season awards on Saturday night.
Russell and Terri Ellem at the Clarence River Cricket Association end-of-season awards on Saturday night. Gary Nichols

Selecting the cricket Dream Team

REPORTING on sport has its up and downs.

But in general there are more positive than negative stories to write about.

Over the past few months I took on the task of finding out who are the best 12 players to have graced the cricket fields in Clarence Valley.

Not an easy task.

Five selectors – Neil Martin, Bruce Baxter, Jeff Hackett, Bob McCredie and Tim McMahon – agreed to put their heads together to select a group of players worthy of a place in the Clarence Valley Dream Team.

All five selectors thought long and hard about their final squads.

Close to 100 names were put forward but in the end the selectors came up with those they thought were the top 12.

The Dream Team was picked on talent and statistics and, most importantly, it had to be a balanced outfit, with all bases covered.

The selectors admitted choosing such a team was not easy but looking back at their final selection meeting, which lasted only a couple of hours, proved to me they were all on a similar wavelength.

For me personally it was a productive exercise and one that I’m glad I was involved in.

Talking cricket might be boring to some but sitting down listening to the likes of Neil Martin and Jeff Hackett reminisce about days gone by was very special for me.

But the defining factor that came out of the selection process was that all five selectors did not push their own barrow.

Far from it.

In fact, they were all very modest when their names were brought up at the selection table.

It is something some young cricketers should take note of.

Examiner sports editor Rhys O’Neill and I were invited to the CRCA presentation night last weekend, where the Dream Team inductees were presented with medallions.

Each time a Dream Team member’s name was read out the audience acknowledged the players with a rapturous applause.

It was fantastic to see the likes of Russell Ellem who, at 93 years of age, is still as sharp as ever.

Russell took time out to pass on a few stories of his cricketing days, which he remembers like they were just yesterday.

Like the time he faced up to Australian cricket legend Keith Miller and the time he bowled to opening great Arthur Morris in a Sydney grade game.

It was obvious talking to Russell he was honoured to make the Dream Team but he also stated he was a bit surprised.


Russell belted 43 hundreds, 70 half-centuries, took 71 five-wicket hauls, snared 10 wickets in an innings on three occasions, scored 193 in just over two hours, and took four hat-tricks.

For the record, all five selectors had Russell in their team. In fact, he was one of the first players picked, and from the above statistics you can see why.

As Neil Martin, captain of the Dream Team, said on the night: “You could have picked any 12 players who in some people’s minds were as good as, if not better than, the 12 selected".

“But it would take a very good team to beat it.”

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