LAST week they were doing it for charity but tonight it will be the real deal, with Tamworth cricketers padding up for the fifth instalment of the McDonald’s Tamworth Twenty20 Premier League.
The opening-round fixtures will see McDonald’s and The Albert clashing at Riverside 1 and Halpins and Steggles matching up next door.
The Albert and Steggles will both be making their debuts, as will Country U17s co-captain James Psarakis – as a skipper anyway.
He’s fresh from leading the Central North U17s to their second Country title in three years and will captain McDonald’s.
“It’s going to be good fun,” Psarakis said.
He’s got a pretty handy side and a few batsmen, particularly, in form.
“Harrison’s (Kelly) coming off a 100 and Cal Rowe’s coming off selection in the open Central North team,” he said.
Kelly was his first pick and with good reason.
“He can hit the ball very hard and he can bowl and field well,” he said.
He’ll be hoping he can replicate what he did against Gwydir last Sunday when he belted 115 off just 100 balls.
Kelly will also be one of a few spinning options.
“I picked a fair few spinners,” he said.
“I think they’re pretty effective in the Tamworth Premier League.”
He’s also got himself, although he will probably keep, and Greg Kellett.
“There’s a few others who can bowl part-time spin,” Psarakis said.
The pace will be headed by Greg Tighe, Richard Bullock and Rowe, who is developing as a genuine allrounder.
Psarakis has been involved in the Premier League for a couple of years and believes fielding is as important as anything else in the shorter format.
“You’ve got to field well,” he said.
“If you take your catches you’ll win most games.”
The Albert skipper Adam Jones has already had to call on some reinforcements.
Two of those are to cover frontline bowlers, with Jake Everett out for the competition and Toby Fox in some doubt.
Fox is battling back issues and had to withdraw from the Central North U17s side last week.
Chris Coulton, Nick Leyden and Richie O’Halloran are all out for tonight too.
“It’s going to be a bit of a juggle to start with,” Jones said.
Josh Crowe has come in for Everett.
Jones has also called on Ashley Turner and the two Holt boys – Mitch and Joey – for tonight.
Games start at 5pm.