When I started playing junior cricket in Coonamble in the early mid-60s there were no helmets, we had oversized pads and bats and there was just one grade!
Whilst I was slipping on my gloves and tugging on my East Coonamble cap at age seven, 16 to 18 year-old bowlers like Phil Murray, Dennis Wrigley and Michael Ecob were lobbing grenades from 22 yards.
The pitches were hewn out of grass on the side of the main wicket square on the well-turfed Coonamble Sportsground. They were unpredictable, some balls flew, some went “molly-grub” and the six-stitchers were hard.
These days there are not only age-appropriate equipment, soft balls and synthetic playing surfaces for the “ten-and-ups”, there are also modified rules, plastic bats and stumps and plenty of helpers to encourage boys and girls to get into the sport.
While we had Kevin Horan, Henry Ibbott and Laurie Harris and an odd sprinkling of parent-helpers, these days there are plenty of mums and dads taking on roles with the Milo and In2It programs.
Action is colourful and enthusiasm infectious each Thursday afternoon at the Lady Cutler Ovals as little Warners, Lyons and Hazelwoods pit their skills against their mates.