Ball in clubs' court Clubs study game plan

Illawarra allrounder and 2013-14 Player of the Year Kerrod White in action during last season's one-day competition. He is one of several up-and-coming stars likely to be missing from the South Coast competition in 2014-15. Picture: DAVID HALL

Illawarra allrounder and 2013-14 Player of the Year Kerrod White in action during last season's one-day competition. He is one of several up-and-coming stars likely to be missing from the South Coast competition in 2014-15. Picture: DAVID HALL

SOUTH Coast Cricket Association's board has circulated a proposal to their clubs which, if adopted, could totally revamp the competition.

The board has responded to a survey conducted during the 2013-14 season, which suggested that the season is too long, that clubs would prefer no cricket on Sundays or public holidays and want a spare weekend in case the first week of the final is washed out.

On the positive side clubs were happy with the mix of one and two-day games in first and second grade, enjoyed one-day games only in the lower grades and preferred a separate Twenty20 competition.

The proposed new competition would see the first and second grade competitions disbanded in favour of a three-division competition with six teams in each.

The Association feels the new structure would make the competition more competitive, with a smaller gap between top and bottom team.

It would allow promotion and relegation between divisions (although it would be unlikely the board would allow two teams from the same club in the same division) and would allow for more flexibility for the scheduling of the competition.

South Coast DCA president Tony Panecasio said that at this stage a new format was a suggestion only.

"We felt something needed to change and it has been given to the clubs so they could take it back for consideration, with a decision to be made at the annual meeting, scheduled for late June," he said.

Long-time SCDCA secretary David Yates said the ball is now well-and-truly back in the clubs' court.

"It will bring a whole new feel to the competition, with every game counting, with clubs not in the running for promotion trying to maintain their spot in that division, and with several higher-profile young players likely to move on to Sydney and outside the area, there is a chance the competition won't be as strong next season," Yates said.

Feedback from the clubs the Lake Times spoke to seems to be very much in favour of the proposal, with each club still to take it to their own annual meetings.

Premiers Albion Park's secretary Glenn Bridge said the association needed to do something to "spice things up".

"Our club is very much a local club, are like a big family, and have built a very strong first grade side on local junior players, but I think everyone knows the standard has slipped a bit over the past couple of seasons," Bridge said.

"Our only worry would be if we were to be in the second tier that players might be lured away to top-tier clubs with inducements, but I'm sure that our players would stick together anyway."

Gerringong president Chris Geer was also enthusiastic and said he could only see one negative.

"If you had to start in the second tier it would be hard to attract players, but having said that I think we would probably push for inclusion in the top tier and see what happens from there," he said.

Shellharbour City secretary Col Couchman also thought it was a step in the right direction.

"It's a pretty good idea, but I think there are a few things to be sorted out, but if it makes the competition stronger and more competitive, it's got to be good," Couchman said.

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