FOOTY and cricket are proving a lethal mix out Lavington way.
On Saturday the Panthers had nine footy players in the starting 11, including a refreshed Jay Banks, who top scored with 86 in Lavington’s first innings against Wodonga Raiders.
It was Banks’ first game since mid-November. The break of almost two months gave him the opportunity to recharge after the previous summer’s cricket and a footy season that saw the midfielder battle injury as the Panthers fell desperately short of a grand final berth.
He is one of several Ovens and Murray players at the reigning provincial premiers.
Sam Harris and Tom Hargreaves are others now dividing their training time between footy and cricket for the Panthers.
Andrew MacKinlay and new recruit Josh Jones played for grand finalists Holbrook in the Hume league, while Sam O’Connor (Brock Burrum), Brayden Mulvey (Walla), Bryce Swift (Rand-Walbundrie) and Michael Galvin (Jindera) also play in that competition.
Nathan Brown plays for Thurgoona in the Tallangatta league, while fast bowler Cam McCormack was the goalkeeper for the all conquering Wodonga Diamonds in the AWFA competition.
Coach Robbie Mackinlay said the partnership was good for cricket and had spin-offs for the footy.
“It means we have to be a bit flexible with the O and M players — it is so professional these days, there is money at stake, that the players spend an hour at cricket training and then have to go to footy pre-season,” he said.
“But as a sportsman who played summer and winter sports I like the idea.
“The footy players bring a work ethic and discipline to cricket — they also carry a high level of fitness and tend to be more enthusiastic in the field.
“This has been a concerted effort by both the football and netball club and the cricketers.
“We see a lot of the footy players dropping in during the afternoon at cricket and alternately the cricketers following the Panthers in the footy.
“Both of us want people to see the club as a place where they can play their footy in the winter and their cricket in the summer.”
But, in a curious twist, senior footy coach James Saker was one of several high profile recruits by Wodonga Bulldogs for this year’s cricket season.