Goodbye footy, hello cricket!

Michael Stennett and Nino Ramunno in front of Macksville's premier cricket venue. The Nambucca Valley cricket teams will be sharing the Phillip Hughes Oval with the Premier League this season.
Michael Stennett and Nino Ramunno in front of Macksville's premier cricket venue. The Nambucca Valley cricket teams will be sharing the Phillip Hughes Oval with the Premier League this season.

No sooner than the footy season had run its grand final victory laps, the Nambucca Valley was stepping into cricket whites.

We caught up with Nambucca Valley Cricket Association president Nigel Wilbow to find out how the 20/21 season is shaping up.

There are seven teams again in this season's competition, but Nigel said where some sides were struggling for players last year, not so this year.

"Most teams are reporting that they've got good numbers," he said.

Scotts Head in particular has attracted some new blood, making them a team to watch out for this year.

They join the three Macksville sides, Nambucca Heads, Bowraville, and the Taylors Arm mob.

Nigel said there has been real improvement to some of the pitches this year.

"New synthetics have gone in on Donnelly Welsh (in Macksville) and the junior oval. They've top-dressed the square at Phillip Hughes Oval and it should be just right for this weekend. There's going to be new synthetic going in at Taylor's Arm, and there'll be a new (wider) pitch going in at Scotts Head some time this season, which will be good," he said.

"Big thanks to Cricket NSW and to Council for help getting the grants for our new synthetic wickets."

There are a few minor COVID-related rule changes to implement this season: All players need to sign in on arrival, and are to arrive as close to game time as possible, fully-dressed.

The old spit polish is out this year too.

The season comprises 17 rounds, with the finals series booked in for March 13, and the Grand Finals on March 27.

Round 1 was a washout over the weekend, but the clouds are allegedly clearing for this weekend's matches.

There are plans to hold some of the heat-soaked rounds in January and February as T20 matches. There's also an idea to use the lights on Coronation Park in Nambucca to host some Friday evening matches.

"That's to save some players, like me, who are getting on a bit," Nigel said. "There's only so much gatorade you can drink in an afternoon."

Speaking of the well-seasoned, there are big hopes for Nambucca this year in the North Coast Over 40s competition, usually held in February.

Last year the Valley took the title for the first time in 15 years, after a nail-biting victory against Lower Clarence in the final. All eyes will be on our crew this year as they prepare to defend that title.

Premier League competition

The North Coast Premier League hit the ground running with a triple header of T20 games the weekend before last.

The Nambucca/Bellinger Valleys team faced off against the Northern Districts first and just snuck through with a win.

Our boys batted first after winning the toss and finished up their 20 with 161 runs, and four wickets to spare. C McKiernan was the standout batsmen of the match with 76 not out.

Northern came to within a whisker of the Valleys' total, but just missed the cream, finishing up 5/160.

But that afternoon luck deserted the Valleys' team when they came across Harwood. Although, they did win the toss again.

The Valleys team were all out one ball before the end of the 20 overs, but they'd racked up 159 runs for their effort. C McKiernan (34), S Elder (33) JT Gilbert (25) and T Statham (20) were the top batsmen.

It was another close finish, with Harwood just making 160 off their innings, but with five wickets spare.

The next day Valleys had their first run in with Sawtell at Dorrigo and came out the worse for it.

The Valleys team elected to bat first after winning the toss, and finished up their 20 overs eight wickets down and with 95 runs on the board. The Valleys' top batsmen were S Elder (51) and T Statham (15).

Sawtell made that tally in just over 18 overs, with five wickets remaining.

All teams had a break over the weekend just passed, but this weekend will see Valleys take on Sawtell on home ground - in Round 4 at the Phillip Hughes Oval from 1pm.

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