There was a world first when the Bulls Masters played in Bundaberg on Saturday using a “smart ball”, and inspiring the next generation of local cricketers.
The game was live streamed with the Bulls Masters posting to their Facebook page ahead of the match that they were “live in Bundy now with a world first using a Kookaburra Cricket smart ball powered by SportCor”.
“Gives live ball speed and spin data,” the post said.
Families flocked to Salters Oval throughout the afternoon for the annual cricket curtain-raiser, in what was said to be the biggest crowd yet to attend, and the Bulls Masters stepped in to help to inspire the next generation of cricketers.
St Patrick Catholic School students Luis Begeda, 10, and his younger brothers Oliver, 7, and Charlie, 5, were inspired to attend the Kids Clinic after meeting the Bulls Masters team during a school visit, and they asked their dad John to take them.
“The boys came home excited saying we had to come along to the Kids Clinic, and I thought why not if they are keen it has to be good,” John said.
Rubbing shoulders with Australia greats, Nathan Reardon, Andrew Symonds, and Ryan Harris, Luis said it had made his day.
“I don’t play cricket with a club, but I do play it at home and school, and I watch cricket on TV,” Luis said.
Luis said maybe this was a steppingstone to taking up the sport locally in the near future.
Reardon happy to return to the region
As a former professional Australian cricketer Nathan Reardon said he had attended the Bulls Masters in Bundaberg for the past two years, and it was always something he looked forward to in his calendar.
“Absolutely I am excited, I grew up just up the road in Gladstone, so it is always nice as my cricket journey started in the region, and so doing these trips is always a bit of a buzz for me,” Nathan said.
“It’s good to be here meeting the kids and keeping them keen – that’s what you want, you don’t want them to take it too seriously at that age, but just to enjoy the game.
“And if we can keep some of them playing the game, then that’s what it is all about.”
Nathan said he’d give it all he had as he went up against the Bundaberg Invitational XI but in the end it wasn’t enough with the Bundy team taking the win with one ball to spare.
“It’s always nice to be here, and we are always grateful for the hospitality we get in Bundaberg, and no one kicks or screams when we get invited here.”
Bundaberg Cricket’s junior coordinator Shannan Heycox said it was great to have the Bulls Masters team comes to town once again, and he believed the old stars would leave local kids with enough inspiration to pick up a cricket bat, or continue to knock ’em for six.
“I hope this inspires the next generation of cricketers,” Shannan said.
“The Bulls have visited a number of schools during their time here, and with the Kids Clinic they have put up a $1500 package that will be given to the school that has the most students here today. And also $1500 worth of sports equipment to a local club.”
Brothers Under-12 bowler James Cronin said he looked forward to the Kids Clinic as it gave him the opportunity to learn new skills and take on some of the best cricket players.
“I’ve been playing since I was seven and I am 10 now, I really enjoy playing cricket,” James said.
“I would encourage other kids to come along, it’s good to make friends, it’s fun.”
Bulls Masters inspire fundraising for BCA
Bundaberg Cricket president Ian Grills said the last four years of Bulls Masters returning to the region had helped raise more than $100,000 and it all went back into local cricket.
“Over that time, we have been able to improve the facilities here; we have renovated the club house, and purchased a score board, which has been a big hit with everybody,” Ian said.
Ian said with the Youth Side playing a T20 against Bundaberg’s Over-50s for the first time prior to the big match, he believed it attracted more families to come along.
“By having this here before the match it’s attracted parents and grandparents to come down – so I think it’s been very successful,” Ian said.
Bundaberg Cricket senior coordinator Ross Pegg presented Karan Singh with the player of the match for the youth side medal.
Karan said it was a tough game, and although they didn’t walk away with a win, it was a privilege to be invited to play in front of the Bulls Masters.
“All the lads put their best effort forward, it was a shame to lose but we all had a good time.”
Read the full match report in the Sports Talk column, released Monday afternoon.