Disappointing start to title defence as Diggers take charge
By GREG WHITE
THERE was plenty of rust on the swords when premiers Sawtell and Diggers Ex-Services stepped into the arena to open the Coffs Harbour District cricket season at Richardson Park on Saturday.
Sawtell were skittled for 135 with captain Chris Neal making no bones about his disappointment.
"All I can say is the batting and bowling were both pretty ordinary," he groaned.
Neal had an unfortunate return to the captaincy, being one of three batsmen to hole out without troubling the scorers.
"I put a full toss straight to the fieldsman at cover and he didn't blink taking the catch," he said.
"Nobody shone out and the effort didn't have a good look."
But in the Diggers camp, captain Steve Meakins was on far better terms with himself, especially after his team ended the session two dozen runs off the lead.
"Everybody was pretty rusty but the bowlers did a fantastic job," he said.
"Joe Mennie was in really good touch and I knew if we could get a good start with the bat, we'd be right in this."
Diggers were cruising till Lincoln Tucker was bowled four short of his half century.
"The discipline wavered for a time but we managed to get ourselves back into a good position," Meakins said.
Prior to the game the town's biggest rumour concerned a possible return to the Sawtell ranks by grand final skipper Todd Gill.
But like most rumours, this one was off-line and Gill was a 'no show'.
"We wouldn't say 'no' if Gilly decided to make a cameo appearance," Chris Neal laughed.
"The story got around when he was back for a wedding last week and I know he played in Toowoomba on Saturday and picked up 30-odd runs.
"Have to wait and see what develops."
One Diggers player who will be breathing a sigh of relief is veteran bowler Terry Herbert.
When the Coffs Coast Advocate did a feature story on the local legend's phenomenal career last season, the wickets inexplicably dried up.
Herbert shrugged off the 'jinx' at the weekend with a bag of 3-20, including two maidens, in his spell of nine overs.