Australian great Mel Jones and BBL10 champion Stephen O’Keefe have been added to the Australian Cricketers’ Association Masters tour of Armidale and Inverell in regional New South Wales.
Jones will be joining for the whole tour, while O’Keefe will feature at the ‘Sporties’ function night in Armidale on Thursday 25 February.
The remainder of the Masters team has also been confirmed. In the squad of 14, eight have played for Australia while 11 have represented New South Wales at the highest level.
There will be an opportunity to meet the team and participate in an exclusive panel discussion during the Sporties night in Armidale. Hosted by Jones, the panel will include a number of the Masters on the tour.
The ACA – the official representative body of past and present first-class cricketers – developed the Masters program in 2008 with a focus on the promotion of cricket. The program involves current and past players to promote and grow the game of cricket in regional areas, as well as raising funds for local cricket associations and identifying local talent.
The Masters will be in Armidale from 25 February, before departing for Inverell on February 27 for the following two days.
In each location, The Masters will play a T20 match against a local representative side and also participate in school coaching clinics and community events. A $1,000 scholarship will also be awarded to a talented young player from each area, which includes the unique opportunity to receive mentoring from one of the Masters players following the tour.
Melbourne Renegades’ quick Josh Lalor and Australian greats Greg Matthews and Julia Price headline a host of former and current day Australian cricketers who will descend on Armidale and Inverell for the Australian Cricketers’ Association’s (ACA) Masters tour.
Jones, whose roots stem from country Victoria, spoke of the impact regional Australia has had on the longstanding success of Australian cricket.
“I see within both the Australian men's and women's teams, and even at our state levels, the contribution made by players who have come from regional Australia has been absolutely huge. I played with the likes of Lisa Keightley, Belinda Clark, Jo Gary, and saw the impact they had on our team. And then you look at the Aussie women's team at the moment, you have the likes of Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux, country Australia has just given us so many amazing players.
“For me, the Masters tour is a chance to reconnect with community cricket. I think for so many of us, as players that played at state or Australian level, we don't get a chance to really be able to come back and connect with the majority of people that are playing the game. So, I think that's one of the big parts for me, is to be able to come back to community cricket.”
Mel Jones was a superstar on the field and is now one of the most most-recognisable media personalities off the field. Jones, a recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia, is a dual World Cup and Ashes winning champion and played in an era which saw Australia dominate cricket internationally. The middle-order batter smashed 131 on her Test debut against England in 1998. Jones is a regular when it comes to getting involved in charity work and initiatives surrounding equality. She has commentated around the world, calling the Indian and Pakistan Premier Leagues and is an integral part of Fox Cricket’s commentary team.
Prolific off-spinner, Stephen O’Keefe played nine Test matches for Australia, retiring from first-class cricket last season with over 300 first-class wickets to his name. Still plying his trade in the BBL, the left-armer will joining the Masters tour fresh from winning his third BBL championship with the Sydney Sixers. The high-point of his career came in 2017, when he took match-figures of 12-70 in Australia’s famous Test victory against India in Pune. His figures of 6-35 in each innings were the best ever by a visiting spinner in a Test in India. O’Keefe captained New South Wales between 2011-2013 and has played seven T20I’s for Australia.
Fast bowler Sarah Andrews played 58 games for Australia, retiring at 28 as one of Australia’s premier fast bowlers. Andrews featured in multiple World Cup campaigns during her 10-year career at the top. On the domestic level, Andrews played 83 times for the New South Wales Breakers, finishing her career with a prolific average of 22.33.
Jonathon Moss was a highly successful allrounder, who was named Victoria’s player of the year for the 2002-03 season. Originally from New South Wales, Moss’ professional career spanned over 200 games for Victoria as well as Berkshire and Derbyshire in the Country Championship. Moss’ highest first-class score of 172* came as stand-in captain against Western Australia. Moss has represented Australia at the Maccabiah Games.
Wayne Holdsworth was an out-and-out fast bowler. He claimed the Sheffield Shield title on three occasions with New South Wales and was the leading wicket-taker during the 1992/93 season with 53 at 25.96. He was also a part of New South Wales’ three domestic one-day titles. Holdsworth played over a century of games for New South Wales taking 251 wickets.
Michelle Goszko played for Australia over a 10-year international career. A World Cup winner in 1997, the hard-hitting batter also scored 204 runs on Test debut against England, equaling the world record at the time for the highest-ever individual Test score. Goszko played over 100 times for New South Wales, winning multiple WNCL crowns.
Wicketkeeper Daniel Smith had a successful 10-year career domestically for New South Wales, and for the Sydney Thunder and Sixers in the Big Bash League. Often deputising to Brad Haddin, Smith flourished in the 50-over format, top scoring with 179, finishing his career at an average of 32.72. He was also a part of the New South Wales side that won the inaugural Champions League in India in 2009.
Talent off-spinner, Rhiannon Dick, represented both New South Wales and the ACT Meteors as well as the Sydney Sixers and Adelaide Strikers in the WBBL. Her career highpoint came when she finished with figures of 6-14 for ACT against New South Wales in the domestic T20 semi-final. In 2015, she was selected to represent an Australian XI against New Zealand in two T20 games.
Left-arm quick Josh Lalor is currently contracted to the Melbourne Renegades, playing seven games during BB10. Having made is first-class debut in 2011 for New South Wales, Lalor has represented Australia A and joined the Renegades this season after a long stint with Brisbane Heat. During last weekend’s Australian Cricket Awards, Lalor was awarded the Community Impact Award for his work on Reflect Forward, a joint movement between racism education company One Love Australia and the Australian sports industry.
Greg Matthews is an icon of Australian cricket. His charismatic nature and extravagance on the field elevated him to cult-hero status. ‘Mo,’ as he is more commonly known played 33 Test matches and 59 ODI’s for Australia through the 1980s and 1990s. Matthews holds NSW’s record for most matches and wickets taken and has four Test centuries to his name.
Julia Price is a two-time World Cup champion, winning in both 1997 and 2005. The wicketkeeper-batter played 94 international games for Australia over a ten year period, which also yielded over 100 games for Queensland. In 2019, she became the first female to coach in men’s BBL, as assistant to the Brisbane Heat. She is the current head coach of the USA Women’s Cricket Team.
Powerful batter Mark Cosgrove played three One Day Internationals for Australia during his 221-game first-class career. The South Australian legend also played for Tasmania and the Sydney Sixers and spent a number of seasons in England’s Country Championship with Leicestershire.
New South Wales off-spinner Jason Krejza played two Test matches, taking a remarkable 12 wickets in what would be his final red ball game for Australia. Krejza also played eight One Day Internationals in Australian colours over a ten-year professional cricket career.
Former New South Wales and Sydney Thunder bowler Scott Coyte will also be joining the tour. Coyte represented Australia at the Under-19 World Cup in 2004 and last played for the Sydney Thunder in 2014.
The ACA Masters is supported by the Armidale Regional Council and the Inverell Shire Council.
Armidale (FEB 25 – 27)
‘Sporties’ Function Night with the Masters
Thursday 25 Feb, 6PM - 8PM, Armidale Golf Course, Free entry
Golf with the Masters
Friday 26 Feb, 9AM-12PM, 9 Hole Ambrose
Primary School Clinic
Friday 26 Feb. 2PM - 4PM, Armidale Sportsground
T20 Match vs Armidale & District Cricket Association
Friday 26 Feb, 6PM, Armidale Sportsground.
Inverell (FEB 27 – MAR 1)
Saturday 27 Feb, 10:30am – 12:30pm, Varley Oval
Community visit with Brighter Access
Saturday 27 Feb, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Victoria Park
Sunday 28 Feb, 10:00am – 12:00pm, Varley Oval
T20 match vs Inverell Cricket Association
Sunday 28 Feb, 1;00pm – 4:00pm, Varley Oval
Sunday 28 Feb, 5pm -7pm, Inverell RSM Club