Wanderers cricket tour hits COVID for six

Regional Queensland centres host 2020 Wanderers cricket tour

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The juniors group that attended the coaching session in Clermont.

The juniors group that attended the coaching session in Clermont.

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For a club that's been in existence since 1933, managing to bring the enjoyment of cricket to young regional Queenslanders during a pandemic was just another score it was able to chalk up.

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For a club that's been in existence since 1933, managing to bring the enjoyment of cricket to young regional Queenslanders during a pandemic was just another score it was able to chalk up.

The Wanderers Queensland Cricket Club has been undertaking an annual 12-day regional tour for over 40 years and captain and president Brad Murphy said the option to cancel this year just wasn't in his DNA.

"It was hard but our sponsors stood by us," he said. "I think people just want a sense of normality."

Not only did it go ahead but this year's tour from August 12-23 totted up the most towns visited ever, thanks to requests from some new places for a visit.

As well as time spent in Yeppoon, Mackay, Proserpine and Home Hill, the 27 personnel headed inland to coach and play at Charters Towers, Clermont, Blackwater and Roma.

Country names among the squad included Greg Chappell Cricket Centre Scholarship recipient, Emerald's Byron Gale, now playing with Valleys, two Warwick players Caleb King and Tom Morris, as well as central Queensland veteran Rick Jones, and Robert OKeeffe from Emerald.

With the help of Queensland Cricket area managers they played a total of eight games against local sides and carried out free coaching clinics prior to each fixture.

The opening game of the trip, against the Capricorn Coast at the Yeppoon Showgrounds oval, saw longtime Wanderer and former Test wicket-keeping legend Ian Healy squeeze in a game with mates.

Former Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy passing on tips in Yeppoon.

Former Australian wicket-keeper Ian Healy passing on tips in Yeppoon.

"Back to the scene of his last hamstring strain, Heals always enjoys his time with the Wanderers," Mr Murphy said.

Despite his cameo at the crease and afterwards speaking to an avid audience, the Wanderers started their tour on the field with a loss, which was described as a "good opportunity to get to know team mates" in preparation for the next seven games.

Also on the trip was former Queensland Bulls fast bowler Luke Feldman, playing three games before work beckoned.

He and former Australian Test quick Geoff Dymock both helped promote cricket and coach juniors at the towns visited.

Geoff was also tasked with entertaining locals with tales from his past playing days.

Prior to reversing their form for the fixture against a Mackay XI, former Toombul player Luke Jackson helped run a clinic for junior representative cricketers in that city.

Visits to historic pubs in Giru and Mingela marked the touring party's day off, along with either a round of golf at Charters Towers or a bus up into the hills to visit the gold city's tourist attractions.

Related: Relive the Goldfields Ashes 2020 carnival

A combined Charters Towers/Townsville XI, which included several country representative players and also had Wanderers tourists Luke Feldman and Tim Agapow play for them, saw the Wanderers defeated by three wickets in a very good match the following day.

They then had a win over the Clermont Bulls, led by past Wanderers tourist Matt Hicks, in an afternoon/evening match under the lights at the Clermont Rugby League ground, undertaking a between-innings coaching clinic for a large group of Clermont's junior cricketers plus a group from neighbouring Capella.

The opposition at Blackwater, led by local sportsman Chris Johnson, was ready for the Wanderers, who went down in a good match.

Roma was a last minute addition to the itinerary, where the Wanderers were victorious against a team led by Scott Hilton, giving them a 5-3 win-loss record for the tour.

The Wanderers tour group at Yeppoon.

The Wanderers tour group at Yeppoon.

Mr Murphy said they had enjoyed the camaraderie of each of the country centre host clubs and it was those benefits as well as the coaching that would see the tours continue into the future.

The club was formed in Queensland during 1933 by the then-Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Wilson, with the aim of encouraging young people to play and enjoy the game of cricket.

Past tours helped introduce young tourists such as Matt Hayden, Stuart Law, Mike Kasprowicz, Jimmy Maher, Joe Burns and Wade Seccombe, Sam Trimble, Carl Rackemann and many other household Queensland cricketing names to the country hospitality while getting ready for the summer.

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