New generation of players learn from the best

IT will be a day for Casino cricket to savour when a team of young players comes face to face with a line-up of former Australian representatives.

Greg Blewett, Jimmy Maher, Wayne Phillips and national selector Andy Bichel have all been confirmed to visit the town from March 8 to 10.

There will be a sports-men's night at the Casino RSM Club on the Saturday, a Twenty20 match at Queen Elizabeth Park on the Sunday and junior coaching clinics on the Monday.

It is an initiative of the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), which successfully held a similar event in Lismore a few years ago with a function at the Workers Club and match at Oakes Oval.

"This is a great chance for us to come together as a community with the focus on cricket," Casino District Cricket Association secretary Melissa Quinn said. "The ACA approached the Richmond Valley Council initially and we were keen for it to go ahead, so we're hoping to get a good turnout."

ACA communications manager Eivion Bowen said a squad of 12 former first-class cricketers would visit the town, with the others involved to be named in coming weeks.

The Twenty20 match on Sunday, March 9, will be against a young Casino representative team comprising mainly Under-19 interdistrict cricketers.

It will start at 1.30pm and spectator entry will be by gold coin donation.

"The ACA is in its sixth year of operating this successful program and it has been a really valuable way of engaging communities," Mr Bowen said.

"The program is funded by Australian and state players, who find it quite difficult to get to some of these areas but understand that regional areas are a rich source of talent.

"There appears to be a groundswell of enthusiasm for the event and it promises to be a great way of bringing the cricket community together following Australia's Ashes success this summer."

Stawell, Bairnsdale and Bendigo in Victoria and Naracoorte in South Australia have been among the venues for ACA visits this season, along with a number of Queensland towns in conjunction with the Bulls Masters headed up by Jimmy Maher.

The ACA also supports the annual Imparja Cup in Alice Springs for indigenous cricketers and the Australian Country Cricket Championship.



CASINO cricket has remained strong in the face of declining numbers in many sports.

Senior club cricket is played in three grades with six A-grade teams including Kyogle.

Junior numbers are also holding up with 60 youngsters in the Milo In2Cricket program, four Under-12 sides and Casino teams entered in the Lismore District Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 competitions.

Casino is also back in Far North Coast Under-19 inter-district this season with its first fixture a home game against Tweed at Queen Elizabeth Park on Sunday.