Jamie Firth aims to impress as a late inclusion for the the annual Cotten Shield clash between Clarence River and Lower Clarence at McKittrick Park.
Jamie Firth aims to impress as a late inclusion for the the annual Cotten Shield clash between Clarence River and Lower Clarence at McKittrick Park.

CLARENCE DIVIDES: Associations go to war for Cotten Shield River rivals ready for huge Cotten Shield clash

COTTEN SHIELD :Every year Clarence cricketers look forward to the Cotten Shield clash and the battle of the Valley is finally upon us.

McKittrick Park will be the venue for the epic battle as Clarence River and Lower Clarence Cricket Associations square up over a junior and senior match for the ultimate bragging rights.

Lower Clarence have been dominant over the past four years and CRCA curator Tony Blanch believes it could be a tough task to knock the defending champions off their perch.

A number of changes to the CRCA side mean Tucabia-Copmanhurst GI Hotel duo Brayden Pardoe and Brad Chard will miss out tomorrow.

“It definitely weakens our side with those two out. You’ve got two all-rounders that bat pretty high up the order and an ex under-18 Australian player pulling out as captain,” Blanch said.

“But whatever you put out on the park you’ve got to bear with and I believe, if the top five batsmen in the side respect the 50 overs and bat out the game it’ll give us a good chance.

“We’ve got to put a target over 200 runs on them. The last four or five years where Lower Clarence has beaten us, our batting has let us down. If they put their heads down those partnerships can really hurt you in this game.”

Blanch had high praise for the Lower Clarence side that have been so successful but he said he had seen better sides come from the area in the past.

Luke Many attempted to tie up the runs during the annual Cotten Shield clash between Clarence River and Lower Clarence at McKittrick Park.
Luke Many attempted to tie up the runs during the annual Cotten Shield clash between Clarence River and Lower Clarence at McKittrick Park.

“They’re probably a bit weaker than they have been but they’ve got a couple of young kids in the side. Troy Turner, a left-arm quickie that can bat middle order, seems to have been holding his own and Hayden Ensbey has been good this season but the rest of them are getting a bit older,” he said.

“They might be ageing but they’re still playing good cricket in the North Coast Premier League.”

One heavy hitter will create a big gap in the Lower side but Blanch said their older players will take the lead.

“They’ve lost big ‘Bear’ (Brandon) Honeybrook which is a big absence for them but with blokes like Mark and Nathan Ensbey still there, their experience will show,” he said.

“They’ve had it over us for a few years now and psychologically, it could be the demon.”

McKittrick Park will resume after Blanch gave the wicket a much-needed break.

“I’ve given it a bit of time off to try and get some more grass growing. At the start of the season we had two weeks to top-dress after the football season started then they held the under-15 state titles there for six days straight which took its toll,” he said.

“We’ve just been playing night competition there so I’ve given it a break before the Cotten Shield and then the grand final later this year. It should come up great come the game on Sunday.”

GAME DAY: Clarence River will take on Lower Clarence at McKittrick Park tomorrow with the juniors starting at 10am and the seniors at 2.30pm.

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