By Lawrence Machado
The Hills Barbarians Junior Cricket Club are enjoying a successful season, after overcoming challenges off the field due to COVID-19.
Despite players moving inter-state and numbers dropping off the senior teams, the Barbarians are in the driving seat in the 2021/22 Parramatta District Cricket Association season.
This weekend, the top-placed and undefeated Barbarians host second-placed Baulkham Hills CC in a decisive A Grade match, knowing a win will strengthen their premiership hopes. The 70-over match will be played at the George Thornton Reserve, West Pennant Hills, starting at 1.30pm on Saturday, January 29.
Evergreen club president and A grade bowler, Steve Wickman said they have a very competitive team who have performed well all season. “I have been playing for the Barbarians for the past 36 years, and still love the competition, though my bowling has gone from fast to a very medium pace,” Wickman said with a smile. “The senior team is doing very well this season, and it pays to play in a competitive side.
“We are fielding 22 teams competing in junior, seniors, girls and mixed competitions, and it has been a challenge this season due to Covid. We are in the middle of the pandemic, but we have to focus on the positives.”
Cricket runs in the family, with Wickman’s son, Jared, playing in the U-13s.
“We have fewer teams for the first time during my time at the club, because we usually grow,” Wickman said. “A lot of adults have decided to sit out this season, while some players and their families have moved interstate. However, people are being sensible with their safety precautions, though we had a few players who have had Covid or been a close contact.”
Wickman and his club are particularly proud that one of their juniors, Tim Ward, is being touted as a future Australian player, after joining Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield team last year. Ward, who also played for Parramatta in the premier grade with much success, failed to make the NSW Shield team despite his obvious talent.
The opening batsman is now thriving in Tasmania, after being called up by their coach Jeff Vaughan. According to former Australian Test captain and Tasmanian teammate Tim Paine, Ward, “has a great character and temperament, and a huge future”.
The Barbarians, formed in 1976/77, are one of the largest clubs in the competition and have strong junior pathways. Junior players are still welcome to join, and are assured of a strong grassroots program, backed by a family-friendly atmosphere. The Junior and Master Blast programs begin this weekend.
Details: Hills Barbarians Cricket Club