If there was a youth award for courage, bravery and determination, Bundaberg 12-year-old Cale Anderson would absolutely win it hands down after his heroics for Wide Bay Flames at the recent Queensland Junior Cricket Under-13 Southern Challenge hosted by BEARS (Bayside, East and Redlands).
Cale was diagnosed with a rare condition called superior mesenteric artery syndrome, a digestive condition that occurs when the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) is compressed between two arteries (the aorta and the superior mesenteric artery) and causes partial or complete blockage of the duodenum, five weeks earlier and spending three of them in the Queensland Children’s Hospital.
Cale, whose father Chris is a former top Bundaberg Division 1 player, was readmitted one week later and was only discharged four days before the carnival.
Doctors had doubts whether Cale would be out of hospital before the carnival, or even play again this season, but against all odds, he was determined to take his place against the state’s best in his age, despite going through many tests, restrictions, pain, scans, needles and obstacles, and he did so with a 92cm tube inserted in his body for food intake.
Despite having no fitness and being physically restricted by the tube, Cale, who was Player of the Junior Cricket 2 Grand Final in a losing Brothers side against YMCA in March, played all five games, and he had a top score of 25 and best bowling of 2-18.
Wide Bay recorded one win and two losses in the pool phase at this tournament hosted, before thrashing SEQ by 152 runs in the play-offs with Bundaberg’s Ashton Lamond outstanding with 4-16 and Samson Juster claiming 2-0, then wrapping up fifth place with a 33-run dispatch of DDSWQ with Ashton again wreaking havoc with 4-35, and two further Bundaberg representatives, Beau Donnison (2-25) and wicket-keeper/opening batsman Corin Driver (31), also featuring.
Wide Bay had lost their first two games despite a dynamic double by Samson of an unbeaten 30 and 3-13 against BEARS, before having a great win over Sunshine Coast with Corin leading the batting charge with 41.
Ashton wound up seventh in the Bowling Aggregates with 9 scalps at an average of 14.0
Meanwhile, Wide Bay Flames missed a final berth at the Bulls Masters Youth Cup in Cairns despite being one of three teams to record four wins and one loss from their five round games, with Sunshine Coast Scorchers and South East Queensland (SEQ) Stormers playing just one T20 game to the Stormers and Flames’ two, and with four points allocated for a win, they amassed 14 points with SEQ and WB each on 12, but the Stormers having a superior Net Run Rate to the Flames of 0.72 to 0.62.
Wide Bay were then blown away by Darling Downs Suns in the play-off for third despite a blazing unbeaten 51 from Bundaberg’s Sam Stuchbery.
Sam also finished sixth on the bowling aggregates for the carnival with his spin, snaring 10 wickets at an average of 16.1 and a best of 3-10.
Another of the Rum City’s eight players in the team, Toby Lamond, placed seventh in the batting aggregates with 152 at an average of 30.4 and a highest score of 66.
The Scorchers went on to claim back-to-back Bulls Masters Youth titles, defeating the Stormers in a Super-Over with both teams smashing 14 runs but the Coast not losing a wicket but SEQ losing one, after the final finished in a thrilling tie.
In the QJC Under-15 Southern Challenge at Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay also won one of their three Pool games, before going down to SEQ 7-221 to 214 in their cross-Pool play-offs despite Bundaberg duo Ben Grey and Oliver Wendt standing tall with 4-36 and 53 respectively.
They then suffered a nine-wicket defeat at the hands of Gold Coast.
Ben had also picked up 3-20 to be a star in their first-up victory against Darling Downs and South West Queensland (DDSWQ).
Wide Bay was also victorious in one of their three Pool games in the U14 Challenge at Southport, before going down to SEQ and DDSWQ in the play-offs.
Bundaberg players to feature in the Pool matches included Nic Delacy, who notched a match-winning 62 against BEARS (Bayside, East and Redlands) first-up, and Charlie Steele and Travis Kapernick, who bagged 3-26 and 2-17 respectively against Brisbane North.
Wide Bay however lost all of their five games at the U12 Southern Challenge in Gympie, but individually the Bundaberg contingent performed well, with most of them at their first state carnival, with James Cronin snaring 3-33 against BEARS, Tyson Melein and Tielman Nieuwoudt posting 2-23 and 2-30 respectively against Metropolitan South West (MSW), and Tielman adding 3-18 against DDSWQ and 3-31 against Sunshine Coast.
Tielman took sixth in the Bowling Aggregates with nine wickets at 13.44 apiece.
There was a Bundaberg connection in the Gold Coast team which defeated BEARS in the final, with captain Caleb McDougall, whose father and former multi-sports star Wade was the 1999 Bundaberg City Council Australia Day Junior Sportsstar of the Year, chosen in the Queensland Merit team after finishing sixth in the Batting with 117 @ 29.25, and 10th in the Bowling with eight at an average of 13.13.
Bundaberg Rum City Foods Premiership senior fixtures resume tomorrow after the Christmas-New Year recess, and the Division 1 clash between Waves and Brothers at Salter Oval, starting at 11am, will double as the Tallon-Giles Trophy showdown.
The arch-rivals have met just twice so far this season, with the Brethren victorious on 24th September, but being without their four Wide Bay Schaeffer Shield representatives when they were beaten by Waves on 12th November.
At full-strength, Waves have more batting fire-power, but the conditions could have an impact on the result following the rain over the past few days.
Much is also at stake in the clash between reigning champions Norths and East Bundy Magpies, who are separated by just 0.79 on the ladder and are locked in a battle for third position and a finals berth with eight rounds remaining.
Horse Racing: Popular Bundaberg trainer Gary Clem got a late Christmas present when he took out the Class 3 Plate at Calliope on Boxing Day with Potent View.
Having his first run since 8th May, the gelding was sent out favourite, paying $2.15, and he won narrowly but well in a field in which long-running champion Bundaberg trainer Darryl Gardiner’s duo Balut and Rutto wound up third and fourth respectively.
Darryl had however got the money with $13 outsider Oh So Rewarding, a winner at Moonee Valley in January 2021, in the Band 0-58 Handicap in Rockhampton three days earlier, with that horse having just his second start for him since he purchased him from Victoria in September.