Cricket set to return – with changes

GCA – Now that the football season is over, attention is slowly turning towards cricket with the Grampians Cricket Association 2013/14 season set to begin in less than a fortnight.

The big inclusion this summer is the Swifts/Great Western B grade team in the A grade competition.

Swifts/Great Western B has been promoted to A grade after three B grade premierships.

This is the first time in the history of the GCA that two teams from the one club have entries in the number one grade.

GCA president, Anthony Martin said the decision was forced upon the executive because of the desire to have an eight team premier division.

Navarre also joins A grade after finishing runner up to premiers Swifts/Great Western last season.

However St Andrews has dropped out of A grade, telling the Association last week it doesn’t have a competitive top tier team.

It didn’t come as a surprise to the Association, with the Saints reportedly losing batsman Jacob Bates to Golden Point while talented youngster Matt North is trying out with a team in Geelong.

Mr Martin was disappointed by the news.

“We had asked Halls Gap to do a straight swap, but they weren’t terribly confident. They have lost a couple of key players,” he said.

Mr Martin said that boosting the A grade competition back to eight teams, with four matches each round, was the Association’s main priority when last season ended.

“Our first move was to make sure that any byes were inthe lower grades,” he said.

Grampians Cricket Association resumes play in less than a fortnight.

“Last year, we had the issue of A grade playersdropping back to C grade and distorting results, causing a bit offriction.”

St Andrews’ representatives met with Association officialson Sunday night to discuss their future and the decision was made to drop backinto B grade.

The side had approached two clubs (Tatyoon and Chalambar) todiscuss merging teams but neither team was interested.

Halls Gap remains in B grade while Willaura andRhymney/Moyston have been lifted from C grade into the second tier competition.

Aradale was supposed to join B grade, but successfullyappealed against its grading from C to B when club delegates met withAssociation officials last week.

Mr Martin explained the reasons behind Aradale’s appeal.

“They finished outside the top four (in fifth) lastseason but we couldn’t take Chaly, who won the premiership because they alreadyhave a team in B grade.

“We had to take the top three sides that didn’t alreadyhave a team in the B grade competition.”

In B grade, it is the same format as A grade with two daygames played for the majority of the season while C grade sees teams play eachother for just one day each round.

“Basically, they have problems getting a team togetherfor two days.You can have 10 or 11 for one day and do it again next week.

“That’s the beauty of C grade, plus you’re there foronly half a day,” Mr Martin said.

“But for the development of their young cricketers,they really need to play a longer version of the game.”

The Association was hoping that B grade would have an eightteam competition, rather than seven but now it has no choice other than toimplement the bye.

In other news, reigning A grade premier Tatyoon is a chanceto combine with Buangor to field a lower grade side.

“They are a halfway step back to getting seconds,”Mr Martin confirmed.

Mr Martin did say there was a big question mark over acouple of C grade teams.

Last year’s late withdrawals, Wickliffe/Lake Bolac andElmhurst along with St Andrews, were all in doubt to return this season.

Wickliffe/Lake Bolac was extremely doubtful while at thisstage, Elmhurst has re-entered the competition after a one year lay-off.

C grade has also changed its format slightly for season2013/14.

The overs in the one day matches have been reduced from 40overs to 35, with bowlers allowed a maximum if seven overs, down from eight.

Grampians Cricket Association 2013/14 season begins onSaturday, October 12 and will commence with three one day matches.

Finals will be played over the Labour Day long weekend fromMarch 8-10, 2014.

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