General bye to give locals chance to see top class cricket
THE team of match officials for the Sheffield Shield match which starts in Coffs Harbour today will be same as the corresponding match at the SCG in November 2014.
Umpires Ashley Barrow (VIC) and Michael Graham-Smith (TAS), scorers Darren Mattison (NSW) and Robyn Sanday (NSW) and match referee David Talalla (VIC) were officiating when Phillip Hughes was fatally struck while batting for South Australia and New South Wales on November 25, 2014.
The corresponding four-day fixture between the two teams was scheduled to be played at C.ex Coffs International Stadium in honour of the North Coast Cricket Council product.
NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association executive officer Darren Goodger said it was a fitting venue for the occasion.
"The match is an opportunity to honour Phillip Hughes and pay respect to him and his family," Goodger said.
"He was a product of North Coast Cricket and it is wonderful that this match can take place at a quality venue close to his home town of Macksville and in the heart of the North Coast Zone.
"Phillip was tragically taken from us well before his time. This match provides an opportunity to remember Phillip, to celebrate his life and an outstanding cricket career. He was such an exhilarating and attacking player."
Goodger hails from Grafton and began his umpiring career in the Clarence River Cricket Association, who have scheduled a general bye this weekend with the purpose of encouraging local cricketers to attend the match.
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Goodger hopes the local community takes full advantage of the opportunity to witness first class cricket in their own backyard.
"I would encourage Clarence Valley cricket lovers to venture to Coffs Harbour for some of the match," he said.
"The NSW Blues play an attacking brand of cricket and are still in the hunt for the Sheffield Shield final with three matches to play.
"It will be a fantastic first-class match and it would be great to see the local community to get behind the Blues in their quest for their 47th Sheffield Shield title."
Goodger also had no doubts the country venue was up to the task of hosting a first class cricket match.
"The match is being played at a sensational, first-class venue.
"It hosted the Futures League match superbly before Christmas between NSW and Tasmania in which Daniel Hughes scored a triple century for the Blues."
Play starts at 10.30am on Thursday.