Former Clarence River cricketing all-rounder Neil Martin is one of five selectors given the task of naming the Clarence River Dream Team.
Former Clarence River cricketing all-rounder Neil Martin is one of five selectors given the task of naming the Clarence River Dream Team. Gary Nichols

Search on for dream team

SO, who are the best 12 cricketers to ever play the game in the Clarence Valley?

The Daily Examiner has taken up the challenge to find out which past and present players are worthy of being named in the inaugural Clarence Valley Dream Team.

Sports reporter Gary Nichols has assembled a blue-ribband panel of judges to vote on the 12 legends of the game, who will be named at the Clarence River Cricket Association presentation night.

Neil Martin, Bruce Baxter, Jeff Hackett, Bob McCredie and Tim McMahon have been given the unenviable task of naming the team.

The first recorded game of cricket in the Clarence dates to the late-1800s, so understandably records on these pioneers of the game in the area are almost impossible to find.

The Clarence Valley has produced some wonderful cricketers over the years, so coming up with a final 12 will most likely have the five members of the selection panel’s heads in a spin.

As part of the lead-up to the naming of the final 12 the Examiner has decided to look at those players who the selectors might consider to be in the running for a place in the team, starting with the opening batsmen.

Former Clarence River captain and talented all-rounder Martin said selecting a final 12 would be a difficult proposition.

“It’s going to be interesting. I’ve come up with about 20 names and basically they’re nearly all all-rounders,” Martin said.

“They’d certainly all hold their place in the team as either batsmen or bowlers.

“The likes of Richie Barnes, Jeff Hackett and probably myself in some regards all did all right with both bat and ball.”

When asked which player would be a standout to make the team, Martin had no hesitation in naming former South Services and New South Wales Country representative John Frame.

“John Frame has to be in the side and I’d say Russell Ellem would be another,” he said.

“Russell played first grade for Balmain for three or four seasons and not too many cricketers in Grafton could play first grade in Sydney.”

Martin also recalls another prominent cricketer who ended up wearing the baggy green for Australia.

“Bob ‘Dutchy’ Holland played in Grafton for three seasons. He wasn’t reared here and didn’t finish here, so I’m not sure if he will be included,” Martin said.

“He used to bat at four and was classified as a better bat than bowler, and yet I think he holds the record for the most consecutive ducks in Test cricket.

“He could spin the ball a long way and could pitch the ball outside leg and take off-stump.”

Martin admitted that in his day most teams had the luxury of several talented all-rounders who were capable of batting up the order and opening the bowling.

“Most cricketers who were good at one were good at the other,” Martin said.

“Some of the all-rounders were the best bowlers. You could pick a team of all-rounders who would bat down to eleven.”

 

The Openers

NOT every batsman puts their hand up to opening the batting. After all, you’re usually facing the quickest and most lethal of opposition bowlers.

A sound technique is required and the ability to adjust to early movement of the ball is a key component to opening the batting.

It is not a job for the faint-hearted, but good opening batsmen relish the challenge.

Over the years the Clarence has produced some wonderful opening bats, some who occupy the crease to see off the new ball and others who like nothing better than taking on the bowlers with raw aggression.

So here are a few openers who are possible candidates for the Clarence Valley Dream Team:

Reg McLennan

From all reports Reg was an excellent opening batsman. Apart from his unorthodox batting style, Reg dominated most bowling attacks during his illustrious career.

According to those who played alongside Reg, his greatest asset was his competitive spirit. He had the ability to keep the good balls out and send the bad ball to the boundary.

Reg wouldn’t give his wicket away easily, was deadly either side of the wicket and scored plenty of hundreds in his career.

Brian Cotten

Played the game in the same way Adam Gilchrist attacked the bowling. A very aggressive opening batsman who was not afraid to chance his arm. Had a fantastic eye and would have no hesitation in blasting the first delivery of the day into the pickets.

Opened the innings at representative level, always dangerous at the crease, particularly in limited-over games.

As an added bonus Brian was an accomplished wicketkeeper.

George Harvey

The first word that comes to mind when describing George is competitive.

He was the ideal opening batsmen – George hated bowlers with a passion and he loved a contest. George was so competitive most bowlers had to knock him out to get him out.

Played for Brothers and Easts and also represented at a high level. A left-hand batsman, George was almost technically flawless and was particularly strong through the leg-side.

Go to www.dailyexaminer.com.au to give your thoughts on the Dream Team. Other contenders will be announced in the coming weeks’ editions of the Examiner.

   It’s going to be interesting. I’ve come up with about 20 names and basically they’re nearly all all-rounders



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