A legion of cricket enthusiasts from around the nation will unite in Charters Towers over the Australia Day long weekend (January 26 – 28) to taste the thrill of victory, and likely a cleansing ale or three during the cherished Goldfield Ashes carnival.
Charters Towers Cricket Association treasurer Kerri Forno said the high-water mark of 240 team nominations set last year has been eclipsed yet again for what is, the largest amateur cricket carnival in the southern hemisphere.
“246 teams have nominated for the 2019 carnival – this is at capacity, we also have three teams on a waiting list if someone pulls out at the last minute,” Ms Forno said.
She said to help cater for the sheer scope of the 71st carnival (established in 1949), people have put in pitches on their private properties to increase the number of fields available, which will number 70 this year.
“I think the increasing popularity of the carnival simply boils down to the fact that all teams have a great weekend of cricket and meeting up with old friends, in fact some of the team mates only see each other at the Ashes now.”
Ms Forno said the Ladies competition has continued to increase in popularity this year with 19 teams entered after a record 16 teams nominated in 2018.
“To allow for all the extra nominations to be accepted we’ve reduced the Ladies competition from a 35 over innings to a Twenty20 format. The A grade comp will also be Twenty20; B1 will be 50 overs per innings, and the B2 and Social grades will be 35 overs per innings.”
She said for any teams looking to have a quiet drink between matches or while spectating, the Goldfield Sporting Complex will have a licensed bar operating from 10am to midnight each day including the Friday before the carnival begins, and food stalls will also be operating for breakfast from 7am each day through until 7pm each night.
“It’s an air-conditioned venue, so come and have a game of pool and a chat to other visiting teams and watch some great cricket."
While cricket is the focus of the weekend, Charters Towers mayor Liz Schmidt said the biggest winner is the local economy.
“It’s hugely important economically for us, everything’s full, the pubs are full, people are eating, people are drinking, people are enjoying themselves, out and about,” Cr Schmidt said.
“Last year businesses stayed open much longer than usual, it’s a great thing for our community,” she said.
Ms Forno added that her main tips to players for making their 2019 Goldfield Ashes experience as memorable as possible are to “drink plenty of water, apply plenty of sunscreen and be prepared to wear a dress if you drop a catch”.
For enquiries please visit the Goldfield Ashes website.