Shield clash a great promotion for cricket
THE unearthing of future star Arjun Nair, homecoming of current gun Joe Mennie, a gallant run chase from Ben Rohrer and Trent Copeland to keep the hosts' season alive and a fitting tribute for fallen favourite son Phiilip Hughes. The Sheffield Shield clash between New South Wales and South Australia delivered a fantastic showpiece of first class cricket to North Coast fans across the weekend.
It was the first time such a match had been held at the C.Ex International Stadium in Coffs Harbour and, judging on the appraisal of what was served up on and off the field from officials, players and pundits, won't be the last.
"It's been a very smooth process and the local council has been outstanding to deal with," Cricket NSW CEO Andrew Jones said.
"We held a Futures League match here in November to test out the facilities and the feedback on that game was outstanding. We just tweaked a couple of things and it's been absolutely excellent."
Official crowd figures tipped 1710 on Friday alone when the entire Cricket NSW board was in attendance along with local dignitaries and cricket officials representing all parts of the north of the state.
"It's great to have quality cricket brought to such a fantastic stadium and to promote the game to young potential cricketers," Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said.
The ground was in simply superb condition which school groups were afforded the opportunity to play on during the lunch break on Friday.
"The greenkeeper has worked tirelessly to bring the ground up to standard and it's a shame they don't use the facility more regularly," Clarence River District Cricket Umpires Association secretary Jeff Hackett said.
"It's a very special occasion and a little bit of sadness as well, with Phillip Hughes from Macksville. The sky was his limit, and gone too early."
Blues all-rounder Moises Henriques travelled with the team and was a late withdrawal after aggravating a hamstring injury. He, too, gave the venue the tick of approval.
"The players always enjoy coming to a place like Coffs Harbour and all the boys are keen to get back up here," Henriques said.
"The facilities are great, it's a beautiful oval to play on and the practice wickets are as good as we've practiced on all year."