PACE: University’s Luke Bird is one of the quickest bowlers in first grade.THE search is on for the region’s fastest bowler.
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University of Newcastle Cricket Club has obtained a state-of-the-art radar gun, a gift from their old boys’ association, and in conjunction with Newcastle District Cricket Association plan on using it to identify the Hunter Valley’s genuine speedsters.

Clubs will be asked to nominate their standout quicks, both seniors and juniors, and entrants will wind up and let it rip on the day of the Newcastle Twenty20 finals at No.1 Sportsground on February 26.

“It’s a great initiative from the Uni cricket club and will add another dimension to our T20 finals day,’’ NDCA secretary Paul Marjoribanks said.

Marjoribanks said the logistics had not been finalised, but it was likely the juniors would bowl off in the nets at No.1 Sportsground and seniors on the centre wicket in between the Denis Broad Cup and first-grade deciders.

‘‘We think it will add a bit of interest to the finals day,’’ he said. ‘‘If we had bowlers representing all 12 district clubs – plus we’ll open it up to City and Suburban players as well – hopefully their mates will turn up to see how they go.’’

The Leading Edge felt there would be nobody better qualified to predict a likely winner than veteran Charlestown skipper Steve Mace, who has battled the district’s swiftest new-ball merchants for more than 25 years.

Mace said it was likely to be a battle between Hamwicks spearheads Sam Webber and Andrew Maher and University left-armer Luke Bird.

‘‘They’re probably the three that come to mind,’’ Mace said. ‘‘They’re all good bowlers and pretty sharp on their day. I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.’’

Mace has faced more than his share of thunderbolts during a marathon career, a large proportion of which he spent opening the batting.

Asked to reflect on the most rapid opponents of his time, Mace was reluctant to single out any individual.

But among those he rated as lively were Kevin Bray, Mark Cameron, Neil Budden, Paul Roshier, Paul Wilson and Geoff Cooke.

Marjoribanks said he would not be surprised if C&S produced a ‘‘bolter’’.

‘‘Well, if you remember, [Western Australia paceman] Michael Hogan was playing B-grade not that long ago,’’ Marjoribanks said.