18 March 2023

Geoff Lawson bowls back into Wagga as the Baggy Blues spread their message

| Chris Roe
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Geoff Lawson

Geoff Lawson returned to Wagga with the Baggy Blues. Photo: Chris Roe.

Veteran Test cricketer Geoff ‘Henry’ Lawson says he loves any opportunity to return to his hometown.

“It’s always great to get back and visit the family and have a look around the terrific town that Wagga is,” he said.

“It’s looking great; I was just down the main street and it looks busy and active and the street itself, there’s so much shade! There was never much shade when I was living here – the trees and the landscaping and the shops look terrific.”

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Lawson was in town as part of a two-day visit with the Baggy Blues Cricket Tour along with a host of past and present players including Phil Emery, Gavin Robertson and Alex Blackwell.

“The Baggy Blues is the NSW cricket players’ old boys organisation and we take various trips to regional areas to help out with the awareness of mental health issues,” Lawson explained.

Working with the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, the Baggy Blues held a meet and greet at the Wagga RSL and a free coaching clinic and exhibition match at Robertson Oval on Thursday afternoon.

“Over the years so many NSW cricketers have come from the regions and certainly from this area, Wagga, Albury and other places, and the Baggy Blues have made mental health in the regions one of their priorities,” he said.

“We’ve brought some young NSW players to town to help out, male and female players, and some coaches so it’s great to spend some time with the kids and have a game of cricket under lights,” he said.


Blues players spent the afternoon coaching some of Wagga’s rising stars. Photo: Chris Roe.

Cricket NSW CEO, Lee Germon, said partnering with the Baggy Blues was a great way to celebrate regional heroes and connect with local cricket communities.

“Cricket in NSW has a wonderful history and looking for ways for our past male and female players to stay connected to each other and Cricket NSW is very important,” he said.

“Bringing cricket and Baggy Blues trips to the region enables us to promote the game in the cricket heartland and talk openly about mental health awareness. Improving lives through cricket, bringing communities together, and reducing the stigma around mental health are goals shared by the Cricket NSW Foundation and the Baggy Blues.”

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Reflecting on the challenges faced by regional cricket, Lawson said that it was important for the game to evolve and he welcomed the move to include more 20-over games.

“I grew up watching, supporting and then playing in the O’Farrell Cup, which was a primary competition everywhere from West Wyalong to Hay and included Tumba and Albury,” he said.

“It used to be a very big competition and attract the crowds on Sundays but that’s faded away as people’s lifestyles have changed.

“Let’s face it, we’re better off having 20-over cricket than no cricket at all.”

He also welcomed the expansion of the women’s game and said that Wagga had a rich heritage to build on.

“We just had a presentation at the RSL for one of Wagga’s best-known female cricketers in Julie Stockton who played first-grade cricket here back in the late ’70s against the men and then scored 100 on debut for Australia in a Test match,” he said.

“It was great to recognise her baggy blue and also her baggy green, so there’s a big heritage of women’s cricket here in town.

“It’s growing everywhere and it’s such a great sport for everybody to play.”

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