Johns creates ticket rush
Andrew Johns could draw a crowd in Newcastle just by going for a walk, so it's hardly surprising the rugby league star's selection in the NSW cricket team for Sunday's game is creating a rush for tickets.
More than four thousand tickets have already been sold for the Twenty20 Big Bash contest between the Blues and South Australia at the Newcastle Number One Sportsground, with a capacity crowd of about 8,000 expected.
Johns, a former lower-grade cricketer in Newcastle, is playing two home games for Simon Katich's side, including Wednesday's clash with Tasmania at Sydney's Telstra Stadium.
Just what happens between when Johns goes for a walk out to bat, and when he returns from his stint at the crease, could have a big impact on the future of the public relations stunt.
Johns spent Saturday at the wedding of Newcastle rugby league team-mate Danny Buderus, but his manager John Fordham spoke confidently of Johns' cricketing ability.
It can only add to the interest in Sunday's game that South Australian fast bowler and former Test paceman Shaun Tait has promised to show no mercy.
Johns did a net session with the NSW team last month, looking comfortable when left-arm quick Nathan Bracken bowled at half-pace outside off-stump.
But the stocky halfback was also hopping around like a tailender at times, receiving a nasty blow on the leg and describing the experience as "frightening".
"He'll acquit himself okay," Fordham told AAP this week.
"(Former Test and NSW captain) Mark Taylor gave him some particular advice about how to play the ball on the legs. He just needs a little bit of a readjustment there.
"His front-foot play and cutting were very good. They (Taylor and NSW coach Trevor Bayliss) were very impressed with that."
Fordham said former rugby league international Johns was a keen cricket fan who had attended the Melbourne and Sydney Ashes Tests this summer.
Fordham said the idea for the code switch had come from a "long lunch" between himself and NSW cricket chief David Gilbert, who welcomed the proposal.
"It's a concept that other states might consider," Fordham said.
"I spent quite a bit of time during the Sydney Test with Dennis Lillee who is a good mate of mine.
"He is president of the WACA. I told him I was going to Newcastle to see the great right-hander bat and he said `who's that?'
"He said the idea was terrific.
"But this is a first and it's nice to be associated with a first."
All six states will be in action on Sunday, with Queensland aiming to continue its domination of Victoria this season when they meet at the MCG.
The Bulls have already beaten the Bushrangers twice in 50-over matches and also won their Pura Cup match last month at the MCG.
Queensland is coming off a tight win over NSW on Friday night at the 'Gabba, where it could only manage 7-173 but kept the Blues to 8-164.
Victoria's match on Friday against Tasmania in Hobart was washed out.
Tasmania will now host WA on Sunday, with the Warriors top of the ladder after two wins from as many games.
WA thrashed South Australia by 55 runs on Thursday night, scoring 4-193 and then bowling out the Redbacks for 138.
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