Sport

Wickets go under the roller

Work has begun on all Clarence Valley cricket pitches with the season three weeks away.
Work has begun on all Clarence Valley cricket pitches with the season three weeks away. Matthew Elkerton

CLARENCE River Cricket Association curator Tony Blanch has already spent the past month doing work to the turf pitches on JJ Lawrence field and Lower Fisher Park but with the end of the AFL and rugby league seasons he has started on main Premier League wickets at Ellem Oval and McKittrick Park.

"With the top dressing and all that you usually need about eight to 10 weeks to get the grass and your core parts all growing again,” Blanch said.

"But because sports intermingle these days we don't get as long to prepare for cricket season.”

After Ellem Oval was hit by pythium blight last season, which had the wicket out of commission for several weeks, Blanch said it was not in the best shape but was hopeful it would be ready in time for the first ball on October 7.

"(The wickets) are not looking as good as what they have done in previous years because we had that disease which took hold at Ellem Oval last year, but it is looking a lot better now.

"We have been laying down a bit of fertiliser over the past month and I have been out rolling it between AFL games to flatten it out a bit more.

"We will definitely have three wickets up and running by the time the season comes around.

"If we have to get off Ellem or McKittrick for a couple of weeks and play a few extra games at Harwood Oval then we will do just that.”

Though a keen football fan, Blanch said there was no better time of the year than the approach to a new cricket season.

"I am always excited this time of the year,” he said.

"I love going out and preparing the wickets and then getting to watch the blokes play on them.

"The most exciting thing is seeing the kids coming through the ranks, that is why we play this sport.”

The cricket season returns to the field after the October long weekend, with Brothers aiming to defend their 2016/17 title.