Local umpires take centre stage for Country Cup
COUNTRY CRICKET: It won't just be the players feeling the heat out in the middle over the next two days during the McDonalds Country Cup finals at Grafton.
The competition is also an opportunity for the best umpires in NSW bush cricket to stand in the matches, with three of the decision makers current Clarence Valley-based umpires.
Clarence River umpires Bruce Baxter and Jeff Hackett will be joined by Rob Pye from Gulmarrad, who umpires in Far North Coast competition, to take fill three of the four Country Cup semi-final positions today.
NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association executive officer Darren Goodger said the umpires were some of the best across country NSW.
"It's a terrific opportunity for the local guys and a really good chance to bring the better performing umpires from country NSW to stand in this carnival," Goodger said.
"They have very good knowledge of the laws of the game and are great decision makers, they all know the game well, and I'm delighted to be able to provide these sort of opportunities to the umpires," he said.
Based in Sydney, Goodger said he still calls Grafton home, and was pleased to see the fields and ground in immaculate order for the competition.
"McKittrick Park looks fantastic," he said.
"Sri Lanka played NSW Country at McKittrick Park in 1990 and Neil Frame put that field together. I've never seen the facilities look as good since. But today it looks exactly the same, even better without the bike track."
Due to the late withdrawal Newcastle umpire Kim Norris due to a back injury, Goodger has been named to umpire the Country Cup final at Ellem Oval on Friday alongside Baxter.
Semi-finals, 10am today
Tweed v Bathurst at Ellem Oval (umpires Jeff Hackett, John Pearce)
Tamworth v Southern Spirit at McKittrick Park (umpires Bruce Baxter, Rob Pye)
Final, 10am Friday
TBA v TBA (umpires Bruce Baxter, Darren Goodger)