Se­nior coun­try week shake-up an­nounced

Geraldton Guardian - - Guardian Sport - Vic­tor Tanti

Sweep­ing changes have been an­nounced to rep­re­sen­ta­tive cricket by WA Coun­try Cricket Board chair­man Rob Mar­shall.

The big­gest al­ter­ation is to se­nior coun­try week with a new sys­tem of eight teams, in two di­vi­sions of four, for each sec­tion.

Pre­vi­ously, there were two di­vi­sions of five per sec­tion, with divi­sional win­ners fac­ing the other in a fi­nal.

Play for the 2018 Al­co­hol, Think Again ti­tle will start on Sun­day, Jan­uary 21, un­der the new for­mat.

Each team will play the oth­ers in its divi­sion once with rounds 2 and 3 on the Mon­day and Tues­day.

The Wed­nes­day re­mains a rest day and on the Thurs­day, first­placed teams in each divi­sion play sec­ond-placed teams in cross­over semi­fi­nals.

Win­ners of those games will meet in a fi­nal on the Fri­day with the win­ner from B-sec­tion and lower pro­moted for the next sea­son.

Teams that do not qual­ify for fi­nals will play for po­si­tion on the Thurs­day and Fri­day and the team fin­ish­ing last over­all will be de­moted. The cricket board is con­sid­er­ing Fri­day games that have no promotion or rel­e­ga­tion im­pact may be T20 games.

The new for­mat is the big­gest change to coun­try week since lim­ited overs cricket was in­tro­duced in 1979 in re­sponse to too many draws. Other ma­jor changes in­cluded the in­sti­tu­tion of B-sec­tion in 1933 as the num­ber of com­pet­ing teams had blos­somed. Fur­ther sec­tions were added from 1950 when more than 50 and even­tu­ally more than 70 teams en­tered.

The Toy­ota T20 Coun­try Cup has been aban­doned for 2017-18 due to a lack of par­tic­i­pat­ing associations.

The Coun­try Cup be­gan as a 50overs-a-side se­ries in 1980-81 and went to a T20 for­mat in 2010-11.

How­ever, many associations, Ger­ald­ton among them, have found it dif­fi­cult to com­mit to the Coun­try Cup on top of coun­try week which is not only a big de­mand on play­ers, but ex­pen­sive.

The cricket board is look­ing at po­ten­tial new struc­tures for the Coun­try Cup which will be dis­cussed at the as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dents’ meet­ing in Jan­uary.

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