The Riverine Herald - - SPORT - By An­drew John­ston

TWI­LIGHT and night games may just be the fu­ture of lo­cal sport.

If Satur­day night’s cricket fix­ture be­tween Echuca and Moama is any­thing to go by, cricket late in the af­ter­noon, and espe­cially at night, could pro­vide the same suc­cess it has in ma­jor com­pe­ti­tions by al­low­ing fam­i­lies and young play­ers to par­tic­i­pate in their lo­cal sports in the morn­ing, be­fore ob­serv­ing the games later in the af­ter­noon.

By no means was Satur­day’s crowd at Vic­to­ria Park one of the big­gest that has been seen at an Echuca sport­ing event.

How­ever, for a sport such as cricket, where the lo­cal game rarely draws many spec­ta­tors out­side of those who are ac­tu­ally play­ing and a cou­ple of birds who landed on the field, the turnout for Satur­day af­ter­noon’s fix­ture would be some­thing or­gan­is­ers should have been im­pressed with.

On top of the pavil­ion be­ing filled with the reg­u­lar play­ers, a num­ber of cars were seen around the bound­ary line with spec­ta­tors stop­ping at the game to watch.

Echuca cap­tain Shaun Hon said the night was a big suc­cess for the club.

‘‘It was fan­tas­tic to have crowd sup­port there,’’ he said.

‘‘In club cricket you are used to the bat­ting side sit­ting down with a cou­ple of peo­ple scor­ing and that be­ing your only crowd.

‘‘With the night fix­ture, we had our lower grade play­ers fin­ish­ing ear­lier and be­ing able to come down and watch. There were 50 or 60 peo­ple float­ing through the bar, so that’s re­ally good for the cricket club.

‘‘We also ran a ladies day of sorts, so a lot of mums and other women from around the club came in and got to en­joy the game as well.

‘‘To us, it def­i­nitely makes a dif­fer­ence hav­ing the sup­port there and hav­ing ev­ery­one en­joy the cricket.’’

Hon said the side only found is­sues dur­ing the twi­light.

‘‘An­thony Den­nis made 79 for us, and bat­ted through the twi­light pe­riod,’’ he said.

‘‘When An­thony came off he said it wasn’t hard to bat, but there was prob­a­bly an el­e­ment of hav­ing to work a lit­tle bit harder dur­ing that point of the game.

‘‘We’ve had two chances now to play un­der the lights, we’ve bat­ted and we’ve bowled and over­all I think it’s shown that we can get a re­ally good game out of it.’’

The ex­cite­ment was also helped by a fre­netic fin­ish to the match with Moama claim­ing a 31 run vic­tory to im­prove their record to 2-2.

But the big­gest suc­cess of the night must be the game it­self.

For this sea­son, the games will be lim­ited by Echuca be­ing the only venue that has lights at a stan­dard ac­cepted to host a night game.

But this could change with sup­port from coun­cils and grants for up­grades.

Hon said he would love to see more games at night.

‘‘I’ve played in two, and re­ally en­joyed the at­mos­phere it has pro­vided,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d like to sit down and en­joy one of these as a spec­ta­tor down the line, I think it would be great for com­mun- ity cricket to have these op­por­tu­ni­ties.’’

Dur­ing the foot­ball sea­son, crowds showed they want to go and watch sport at night, de­spite the bonechilling cold.

So at this time of the year with warmer nights, the prospect of night and twi­light fix­tures could well see our lo­cal games pull big­ger crowds, and make lo­cal sports a must on sum­mer cal­en­dars.


WILD THING: Echuca’s front line bowler Matt Hinks sends down an­other one dur­ing the GMC A grade game against Moama at the week­end.

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