WDCA set for bumper sum­mer

Alpine Observer - - Sport - CRICKET By SCOTT AN­DER­SON

DE­SPITE en­coun­ter­ing a cou­ple of sig­nif­i­cant stum­bling blocks in the lead up, Wan­garatta and District Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Justin Trif­fitt is look­ing for­ward to an ac­tion packed sum­mer.

The WDCA’s A grade com­pe­ti­tion has been re­duced by two teams, from 11 down to nine, fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Corowa to Cricket Al­bury Wodonga and the merger be­tween Be­nalla Bushrangers and Be­nalla Vi­o­let Town United.

“That def­i­nitely made things tricky go­ing into this sea­son,” Trif­fitt said.

“With Corowa’s move, we would have liked them to have stayed, but there is no an­i­mos­ity there – we had good dis­cus­sions with them be­fore­hand.

“And the merger was a bit of a last minute thing.

“Be­nalla Vi­o­let Town United was on the verge of col­laps­ing, so a merger was the best so­lu­tion for them.

“So we’ve had a few chal­lenges, but the pos­i­tives have def­i­nitely out­weighed the neg­a­tives.”

Among the pos­i­tives has been the rein­tro­duc­tion of the A re­serve grade for this sea­son.

“We ended up with 16 teams in B grade last sea­son play­ing in two con­fer­ences,” Trif­fitt said.

“The pow­er­house clubs had two teams and they were play­ing against one another in the fi­nals, so we wanted to get away from that.

“By bring­ing back A re­serve we can have a more even com­pe­ti­tion at ev­ery grade, and it also gives us a stronger path­way to­wards A grade cricket for the play­ers com­ing up through the ranks.”

Among the ini­tia­tives for the com­ing sea­son is the re­turn of a T20 com­pe­ti­tion, which will take place in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary with cash in­cen­tives for par­tic­i­pat­ing clubs.

“We will play it as a Satur­day/Sun­day round robin, with both an A grade and an A re­serve grade,” Trif­fitt said.

“We will have games across the re­gion, with some un­der lights, and the two fi­nals to be played on the first Fri­day night in Fe­bru­ary.

“Toxfree is on board as the spon­sor, so we will have prize money of $500 for the win­ning team of each grade.

“It def­i­nitely adds a bit of ex­cite­ment for ev­ery­one, and the clubs have all told us that they want to have T20 cricket back on the cal­en­dar.”

The WDCA is also ex­pand­ing on its first foray into a sep­a­rate fe­male com­pe­ti­tion, with fur­ther clubs com­ing to the party.

“The girls’ com­pe­ti­tion is fly­ing at the mo­ment,” Trif­fitt said.

“We’ve got An­drew Bell head­ing that up, and we should have draws out this week.

“There will be teams from Be­nalla, Mansfield and Beech­worth all com­ing in, and Ovens Val­ley is also look­ing to get a team up, so the com­pe­ti­tion is re­ally thriv­ing.”

Off the field, the as­so­ci­a­tion has made fur­ther steps to strengthen its po­si­tion with Kook­aburra sign­ing a three-year spon­sor­ship deal.

“The sup­port we get from Kook­aburra is re­ally favourable and it is some­thing that we are ex­tremely ap­pre­cia­tive of,” Trif­fitt said.

“With­out that sup­port we would strug­gle to stay fi­nan­cially vi­able, so you just can’t un­der­state how im­por­tant that is.”

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