Cricket: Northern Inland is padding up for a big season ahead

The region will be a real showcase for the best cricketing talent in the Country this season.

The hosting rights for three of NSW Country Cricket’s premier tournaments have been awarded to Northern Inland Associations. 

Armidale will host the Kookaburra Cup in January, and before then Inverell will hold the Northern Country Opens Championships in November and Tamworth the Country Colts carnival in December, in what is set to be a boon for not only the local associations but the local economy.

“It’s lots of work hosting them but the benefits to the local association is huge,” Central North zone administrator Hayley Bullock said.

It’s not just the direct economic benefit through things like the canteen but the increased sponsorship value and potential to attract new sponsors.

The financial benefit for the local economy is also huge, Bullock said, with a carnival estimated to inject around half a million dollars into the community. 

Subsequently, she approached Country Cricket and asked what they (Central North) could do to host more championships and then put it out there to the local associations to seek their interest.

“We had quite a bit of interest. Narrabri, Inverell, Tamworth and Armidale all put their hands up,” she said.

Narrabri were the unlucky association to miss out but did host the Country Opens Championships last season.

Bullock said the Inverell Council had been amazing in putting the sponsorship up to host the championships, and said Country Programs Manager Bruce Whitehouse was “blown away” by the facilities when he visited.

They are currently in the midst of erecting lights on the two McCosker Ovals, which will give them three fields with lights.

In what is shaping as a busy year for the zone, Central North are also hosting the Women’s Country Championship at Raymond Terrace next week.

Involving the cream of young female talent in the country ranks, the U15’s championships will be held on October 3 and 4 and the U18’s on October 5 and 6.

They’ll be preceded by the Central North Invitational in Tamworth on the weekend. The annual pre-season carnival will run from Saturday through to Monday and see the Northern Inland U13’s, U14’s and U16’s teams taking on their counterparts from the Hunter Valley, Mid North Coast and Scots College.