OLD Boys might be running last in the Northern Inland Credit Union Tamworth first grade competition but the club, which is based at North Tamworth Bowling Club, is hoping a return to one-day cricket will spark a turnaround in not only the top grade but lower grades as well.
Old Boys secretary and club stalwart Scott Abra is hoping the return to one-day matches also makes it easier to select sides.
“It’s been one of those funny years,” Abra said this week.
“We’ve had a lot of players unavailable, a lot working and some injuries.
“At the start of the season we had 60 players registered but had to forfeit third grade the first round because we had 36 of those players unavailable.”
Old Boys are yet to win a game in first grade and languish in sixth, 1.51 points behind City United entering tomorrow’s match against reigning premiers and competition leaders South Tamworth at Scully Park 2.
The outfield at Scully 2 resembles Old Boys’ early form too, poor and patchy.
Abra is hoping that changes as a few players return from injury and unavailability to strengthen the first grade and a club which is last on the Club Championships table as well.
“I think the whole club is well suited to the one-day format,” Abra said.
“As a club we love the one- day games better and find it tough in the two-day.”
Commitment to two-day games is almost a dirty word with Old Boys and it’s not uncommon for players throughout the grades to tell their captains at about 5.30pm on the first Saturday they are unavailable for the second day the following week, Abra said.
It’s little wonder then the club is running so lowly in all four grades.
Abra is hopeful the return to one-dayers will spark a revival in form and commitment.
“Will Howard is still out injured,” he said of the first grade opening bowler, who was pushing for a spot in the Tamworth Country Cup and WVC sides until suffering a rib-side injury.
“And Aaron Hazlewood is away this week. He works in the mines down near Dubbo,” Abra said.
“It’s turnabout this week.
“They are big losses but we do have Dave Heyman back.
“He will strengthen the batting and bowling with his left- arm chinamen.
“A lot also hinges on Ben (Middlebrook) and Simon (Norvill) as well.
“We picked up a few players from Attunga as well this season and they’ve helped out a lot while we have some good young players coming through.”
Wicketkeeping Layne Berry is one and his batting has been improving as well after opening with 39 in the first game.
“He’s been getting his 20s and 30s since, not bad for a young kid,” Abra said.
“And Will Chesterfield has been bowling well too – picked up a few wickets here and there.
“Not bad for a 15 or 16-year-old.
“And Luke Fox is right now after getting his HSC and Schoolies out of the road.”
Grant Sippel’s return also adds plenty to the batting for a club which is also finding the hospitality at North Bowlo a perfect link with its family atmosphere.
All it needs to do now is find some stability with team selections and build on some regular playing performances.
In other games, North Tamworth and Bective battle for second at No 1 Oval in a day/night clash starting 3.30pm while City United and West Tamworth match up at Dick Edwards Oval.