Hollands pitch in to gather most votes

February 01, 2018

Connor Holland has the advantage of the best backyard cricket pitch in the Goulburn Valley to practise on. More runs: Central Park-St Brendan's Connor Holland struck the ball superbly on his way to 64 runs.

The Holland family pitch in all of it's glory. Pristine pitch: The Holland wicket provides something for everyone. Best Backyard Pitch in the region

Chief assistant groundskeeper Sam Holland makes sure his pitch is in top condition. Precision accuracy: There's no room for error when it comes to backyard cricket. Best Backyard Pitch in the region

The results are in.

Almost 350 voters had their say on which backyard pitch was the best in the Goulburn Valley and the Byrnes and Holland families took the lead at various stages of the count.

But with 68 per cent of the final support, the Hollands have been crowned inaugural champions of the backyard.

While they were mostly lauded for their closely cropped wicket and attention to detail, the Hollands also found the middle of the bat with the all-important social media campaign.

After using their strong family connection to Central Park-St Brendan’s Cricket Club and the Shepparton Strikers Hockey Club to earn more votes, head curator Peter Holland was happy with the strong victory.

‘‘We pulled in some cricket club and work people,’’ Peter said.

‘‘In the end it got very political in trying to get votes.’’

With the backyard cricket season winding up, the Holland pitch is beginning to blend into its surrounds once more.

But chief assistant groundskeeper Sam Holland is still itching to test his mettle against father Peter — and older brothers Brodie and Connor — well into Australia’s coming four-Test tour to South Africa.

‘‘The youngest (Sam) is keen to keep the wicket in top condition,’’ Peter said.

And as for defending their title, Peter was confident his arena would again be rated among the best in the business.

‘‘I’m sure we could probably give it a go again,’’ he said.

‘‘The grass is starting to grow over it now, but I’m sure we’ll have another crack.’’

While the final vote did not fall in his family’s favour, John Byrnes was excited to share his backyard tradition with the region’s cricket lovers.

‘‘We had plenty of fun doing it,’’ he said.

The Byrnes family provided a point of difference to voters with their drop-in pitch, Baggy Blues and auspicious life member inductions, but did not use their celebrity power to its full potential.

‘‘We had Stevie J (293-game Geelong and GWS champion Steve Johnson) playing this year, so we will have to use that better next time,’’ Byrnes said.

‘‘We inducted a new life member this year, too, and it’s also a very teary occasion when that happens, they’re usually overcome with emotion.

‘‘It (backyard cricket) is a tradition, if you look at our honour board you can see that, and we’ll always keep doing it.’’

Backyards of the region will have the opportunity to challenge the Holland family’s reign next summer.

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