It's a long way to come to watch cricket

ROGER and Jane Pitblado were just another couple of faces in the sparse crowd of cricket lovers watching the action unfold on Ellem Oval.

The husband and wife sat away from the harsh sun intently watching the game unfold at its own unique pace.

“We like cricket in the sense it so quiet and smooth,” Roger said.

“You can relax with a beer or a mint julep and during tea time you can go off to the beach and come back and not have missed much.”

Listening to Roger it becomes instantly obvious he and Jane have travelled much further than just around the corner to catch the latest round of Clarence Valley cricket.

“We're on vacation from Sudbury, Ontario (Canada) ... the nickel mining capital of the world,” Roger said.

“We were in Lismore for a month about three years ago and we toured this far south on a day trip,” Jane said.

“So we knew Yamba and we thought we liked to go there if we had a vacation.”

“The thing about Yamba we like is the fact it has so many different beaches and there different each day,” Roger said.

“If you want a nice quiet beach you got to Whiting and if you want it a little bit rougher you can do Pippi Beach.”

Canadian cricket fans are a one in a million occurrence in a country where ice hockey dominates the back pages of newspapers.

However, Roger and Jane have broken away from the sporting mould of their fellow countrymen.

“We're really not ice hockey fans ourselves but we are tennis fans and soccer and basketball is the big thing,” Jane said.

“We go to the (basketball) games all the time at our university.”

The Pitblado's cricket love affair began when the couple moved to the Brisbane suburb of Corinda with their three sons 25 years ago.

“Before my retirement I was professor of geography at Laurentian University in Sudbury ... and we came out and spent a year here,” Roger said.

“Our friends in Brisbane were really keen on cricket and they got us interested,” Jane said.

Roger and Jane said the game grew immensely in their Brisbane household when the three young Pitblado boys started to pick up both bat and ball.

“We brought the kids over and they went to school in Brisbane and learnt about cricket,” Jane said.

“They went back really enthusiastic and tried to tell their friends ... but it didn't go over to well with the friends.”

Although never making the visit to the home of test cricket in Brisbane, the Gabba Cricket Ground, the family took every available chance to stay up to date with the action on the pitch.

“We were almost to the Gabba, but not quite,” Roger said.

“The kids acted up and so we didn't take them,” Jane said.

“That was also the year Australia hosted one of the first one-day tournaments and just after Christmas we took a tour from Brisbane through Broken Hill and up to Adelaide and so on,” Roger said.

“That's a long way to go with three young kids but the one-day internationals were broadcast on the radio and they just loved it.”

On their return to Canada, the Pitblado's found a sporting landscape near devoid of cricket.

“There aren't too many cities in Canada where cricket is played on a regular basis but there are a few,” Roger said

“Out in Vancouver and Victoria there's more ... and Toronto has some cricket,” Jane said.

“The kids don't learn it ... it's only the people that have come to Canada from cricket countries.”

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