As the Tamworth under 16s closed out the Stan Austin Carnival in Taree on Thursday, it also signalled an end to their junior representative days playing for Tamworth.
The players will now move into the senior ranks for Tamworth representative sides.
Coach Jim Haling and manager Russell Pitt have watched the players move through from the under 12s team and the pair are looking forward to what comes next.
For Haling, it will be shifting from a coach to a teammate.
“This has been the fifth carnival for the majority of the team and all I can say is it’s been a privilege to coach this bunch of kids,” Haling said.
“It’s been great to see them grow not only as players but as young men and women.
“They’ve been a pleasure to coach and I’m fortunate to now get to play with and against some of them in Tamworth’s senior men’s grade cricket which is a real buzz.
“Even this weekend a couple of the lads have been asked to step up into the Tamworth men’s second XI side and I look forward to running out on the field with them as their teammate and not their coach this time.”
TAMWORTH’S TOP FIVE BATTERS AT THE STAN AUSTIN CARNIVAL
Pitt summed up the cricketing journey up in his own unique way.
“At the start, Jim was taller than all of them. Five years later and they’ve all sprouted past him easily,” Pitt joked.
While the side didn’t take out the carnival, Pitt described Tamworth’s performance at the four-day tournament as a “good result”.
After two matches, Tamworth were unbeaten heading into the final regular round match.
The cricketers came up against fellow undefeated side Mid North Coast on day three.
Tamworth were well in the hunt after bowling Mid North Coast out for 117 but the opposition bowling attack were on song.
“To be all out for 43 was not something I saw coming but to our credit we hung in there and not one of the kids gave their wicket away today. They [Mid North Coast] were just too good,” Haling said. Tamworth then bounced back in a consolation final to knock over West Pennant Hills.
TAMWORTH’S TOP FIVE BOWLERS AT THE STAN AUSTIN CARNIVAL
Haling said results weren’t everything to him and seeing the cricketers evolve as players was the most important aspect of junior representative cricket.
“All the kids have improved over the years and it’s great that the potential you think is there when they are 11 or 12 years of age finally blossoms and they become that quality cricketer you always thought they could be,” he said.
“That’s the best part for me.
“I’d also like to thank the group of parents we’ve had who were always willing to help out, be it scoring or throwing balls or cooking a BBQ.
“They should be very proud of their kids who all now ready to take the next step with the cricketing futures.”
GAME BY GAME RUNDOWN
Tamworth v Far North Coast at John Martin Oval, Taree
Tamworth (9-164) d Far North Coast (156) by eight runs
Notable batting performances for Tamworth was Liam Rodgers (25), Olli Keft-Gill (22) and Campbell Newby (19).
It was a team effort batting through the 50 overs with a great partnership between Newby and Lauren McGill when needed.
The game was just as tight as the scores suggest as Far North Coast managed to get to the final over after being 6-89 at one stage to give the game a real shake. Some tight bowling at the death saw Tamworth get home in a nail-biter with Keft-Gill bowling Far North Coast’s last batsman with three balls to go with the score on 156.
The coaches game ball award went to Oscar Spinks who grabbed 3-29 off 10 overs. He was well supported by Ryan Rogers who had excellent figures of 3-15 off 10 overs.
Tamworth v Penrith at Esmond Hogan Oval, Harrington
Tamworth (2-75) d Penrith (74) by eight wickets
A great knock came from Thomas Haling with a score of 33 not out.
Penrith won the toss and chose to bat. This decision was soon being questioned after Tamworth’s opening pair of Oscar Spinks (4/15) and Noah Pitt (2/18) had the ball hooping around in the overcast conditions to have the boys from the base of the mountains at 5-49 and eventually all out for 74 in the 30th over.
Great support came from Olli Keft-Gill, James Gibson, Matt Tomlinson and Ryan Rogers who all picked up wickets.
Tamworth cruised to victory on the back of Haling’s knock at number three.
The coaches game ball went to Noah Pitt who bowled with good pace and had the ball moving around.
Tamworth v Mid North Coast at South Street Oval, Tuncurry
Mid North Coast (117) d Tamworth (43) by 74 runs
This game saw two undefeated teams playing for a spot in the final.
Mid North Coast won the toss and chose to bat first and were restricted to 117 in the 49th over.
Oliver McGill – who came into the side as a late substitute – took the most of his opportunity.
He claimed match figures of 4-14 off 10 overs including a great caught and bowled.
McGill was well supported at the other end by Ryan Rogers (3-29) with his ever-improving off spinners.
Tamworth were well in the hunt to chase down the runs but it was to be Mid North Coast’s day and their bowlers were on song with Tamworth’s top four batsmen getting, what the umpire described as, absolutely unplayable balls and Tamworth slumped to 5-9 early in reply.
Campbell Newby, Lauren McGill – who batted on bravely after being struck a hefty blow on the finger – and Oscar Spinks showed some courage with the bat and got the visiting team to 43 before being all out.
Tamworth v West Pennant Hills at Wingham
Tamworth (2-83) d West Pennant Hills (82) by eight wickets
West Pennant Hills won the toss and chose to bat. Tamworth bowled well and shared the wickets around with the pick of the lot being debutante George Nash with 2-8 off his right arm slow “mystery” balls. He was well supported by James Gibson with 2-13 and Oli Keft-Gill with 2-10. Cracking catches by James Gibson, Noah Pitt and Oli Keft-Gill.
Opener Liam Rodgers steered Tamworth home with an unbeaten 45 which included some graceful drives and a couple of boundaries.
Coaches game ball went to George Nash.