THERE is no doubt Ipswich is the strongest centre for junior cricket in south east Queensland country.
There are now more junior teams playing in fixtures than in previous years. The In2cricket Program for beginners is in full swing, Friday night cricket for 8-9-year-olds is expanding, and the girls' cricket programs at Limestone Park are popular.
Add to this the record representation of Ipswich players in South East Queensland teams selected to play at state carnivals, where in some age groups the team is made up of mostly Ipswich players.
Ipswich cricket is well aware of the importance of fostering junior cricket in the region, with an eye to the future, as these are the players it hopes will fill the ranks in senior club cricket.
Keeping these youngsters in Ipswich by providing pathways through the Hornets and the Pioneers is its ultimate aim.
In a positive move to boost Ipswich Junior Cricket, an under-13 invitational carnival will be held in Ipswich from January 14-18. The teams will play for the Les Kinnane Cup.
Four centres have accepted for the inaugural carnival with assurances from others they will compete in future years.
The matches will be played at the Ivor Marsden cricket grounds and it will be the first carnival played at the newly-revamped venue.
THE Webb Shield and Plunkett Cup teams both travel to Captain Cook Oval on Sunday.
The clash with Toowoomba is always competitive with honours shared in recent years.
The Pioneers Webb team has three South Queensland representatives in Ben O'Connell, Craig Cumming and Rhys O'Sullivan and a number of experienced players.
Batting first and getting a good total is a well proven strategy, as not all teams are good chasers, and this appears to be the case with the Ipswich team.
I am confident the boys can bounce back from the loss to the Gold Coast and prove too strong for Toowoomba. The young Hornets' Plunkett team should be close to full strength tomorrow and wouldn't have to improve much to beat Toowoomba.
Some more application by the lower order will strengthen the team overall, as it was the loss of the last five wickets for 11 runs that cost the youngsters their game against the Coast.
It was a mixed bag for the junior representative teams last week.
The Hornets Lord Taverners could not chase down Redlands' 313 and were dismissed for 200.
Sent in again, the boys batted solidly to be 1-77 at stumps.
The Shane Watson Cup under-16s also failed to match Gold Coast's total of 146 and were dismissed for 119. The local success came from the Ray Weier under-15s who put two wins together, proving too strong for Metropolitan South West.
The Pioneers' score of 145 was 13 runs too many for MSW.
Luke Muggeridge starred for Ipswich in scoring 34 runs and taking 2-12 with the ball.
Tobias Nugter scored 22 runs and Nathan Burge took 3-17 with the ball.
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