Mud­dies to de­cide on bid to re­turn to First Grade af­ter 20 years

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Hay­den Smith

THEY have been bat­ting above av­er­age for years — and now the high-fly­ing Dou­glas Mud­dies are con­sid­er­ing tak­ing their game to an­other level.

Dou­glas Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion mem­bers will meet next week to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of en­ter­ing a First Grade side in the 2016-17 Cricket Far North com­pe­ti­tion.

Should they field a top-level side it would be the first time in al­most 20 years the Mud­dies have com­peted at the re­gion’s high­est stan­dard of cricket.

It comes as the Mud­dies lad­der-lead­ing Se­cond Grade team pre­pares for this week­end’s one-day grand fi­nal against Mul­grave Pun­jabi.

The club’s Third Grade side has also en­joyed an­other suc­cess­ful sea­son, sit­ting in first place on the North­ern Zone two-day lad­der.

Club pres­i­dent Ben Vikionko­rpi said the Mud­dies had the strength both on and off the field to cut it in First Grade, de­spite a failed tilt in the top level dur­ing the late 1990s.

“The se­nior and ju­nior num­bers are strong, and most of our play­ers are lo­cals,” he said. “A lot of the other teams and um­pires think we are ca­pa­ble of play­ing in First Grade.”

Vikionko­rpi in­vited bud­ding lo­cal crick­eters to at­tend a meet­ing next Wed­nes­day evening at the Port Dou­glas Sports Com­plex where the club would con­sider its op­tions for next sea­son and be­yond.

But he said the Mud­dies, founded in the early 1990s, needed to be cer­tain of their abil­ity to sus­tain a top level side be­fore they made any for­mal sub­mis­sion to Cricket Far North.

“We’re a bit re­luc­tant to go in ham­mer and tong,” Vi- kionko­rpi said. “It’s a three­year com­mit­ment, and if it falls over we could ba­si­cally end up get­ting smashed for three straight sea­sons. But if it works it could have great spin-offs for the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

A ninth team in the Cricket Far North First Grade com­pet- ition could prove prob­lem­atic as it would im­pose the need for a bye each week.

But there is some spec­u­la­tion a Mud­dies side could re­place peren­nial cel­lar-dwellers In­n­is­fail in the top divi­sion from next sea­son.

Cricket Far North pres­i­dent Greg O’Neill said the Port Dou­glas side “ticked a lot of boxes” for a po­ten­tial First Grade berth. Mud­dies stal­wart Matt Schiesser said it was im­por­tant for the Port Dou­glas and Moss­man com­mu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate in high level sport­ing com­pe­ti­tions.

“It’d be great if one day a Mud­dies ju­nior ended up ris­ing through the ranks to play for Queens­land or Aus­tralia,” he said.

Any­one in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing next Wed­nes­day’s club meet­ing can call Ben on 0438 190 517.

Dou­glas Mud­dies play­ers Ryan Doble, James Wil­son,, Dar­ren Hussey and Pete Gil­mour have en­joyed an­other strong sea­son in 2015/16.

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