Festival starts in style

IT'S been a long and winding road to get here, but when the New South Wales SpeedBlitz Blues and Victorian Bushrangers shape up in the opening game of Lismore's Festival of Cricket today they should all know each other a little better.

The two state cricket teams flew into Brisbane yesterday and boarded a bus together bound for Lismore.

While the players from the two teams got to mingle and chat on the three-hours-plus trip south, all that camaraderie will fly out the window when they toss the coin at 2pm at the start of today's 50-over match at Oakes Oval.

While New South Wales was always going to be missing most of its Australian stars, the team that takes the field today will also be minus Simon Katich and Dave Warner, who won't be available until tomorrow's one-dayer against Tasmania.

However, Dominic Thornley said it didn't matter which team runs out for New South Wales - it's all good practice for the Champions League tournament in India next month.

“Every time the New South Wales cricket team plays there is a lot of responsibility and tradition that comes with that,” Thornley said.

“It doesn't matter what team we field, it's the same kind of attributes. “It's great that we've got a few of our Aussie players back, but a few of them are still overseas and will join up with us in India.”

While many of New South Wale's Ashes tourists deserve a rest, the rest of the squad are jumping out of their skins to get some time in the middle after completing an exhaustive pre-season.

Escaping Melbourne's wet weather for a week of cricket in a warm climate was uppermost on Victorian spinner Jon Holland's mind.

“Everything has been indoors in Melbourne, so we are looking for some good weather and good competition,” he said.

“Every time we play we are looking to win.”

A ton of cricket The Festival of Cricket program includes:

NSW v Victoria 50-over match today from 2pm to 10pm;
NSW v Tasmania 50-over match tomorrow from 2pm to 10pm;
Tasmania v Victoria Twenty20 match Thursday from 10am to 2pm;
Tasmania v Victoria 50-over match Friday from 10am to 6pm;
NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Saturday from 5.30pm to 9.30pm;
NSW v Tasmania Twenty20 match Sunday from 10.30am to 2.30pm;
NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Sunday from 3.30pm to 7.30pm;
NSW v Victoria Twenty20 match Sunday from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.


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