Red­backs merger among changes for new sea­son

The Queensland Times - - NRL SPORT - — David Lems

CRICKET: A new first di­vi­sion merger team is among the sides pre­par­ing for the start of the 2017/18 in­ter­city and Ip­swich and West More­ton Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion (IWMCA) sea­sons.

IWMCA pres­i­dent Bruce Raleigh was con­fi­dent the newly-formed South East Red­backs would have a com­pet­i­tive com­bi­na­tion af­ter for­mer clubs Swifts and East­ern Taipans joined forces.

The Red­backs will be part of the sea­son-open­ing one-day se­ries be­tween Ip­swich and Toowoomba start­ing on Oc­to­ber 7.

Last year’s in­au­gu­ral in­ter­city com­pe­ti­tion was suc­cess­ful with pos­i­tive feed­back from play­ers and of­fi­cials.

Pow­er­house Toowoomba team West­ern Districts beat Ip­swich com­pe­ti­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives North­siders in the fi­nal to claim the Hard­ing-Mad­sen Shield.

Raleigh said the same for­mat would ap­ply this sea­son, be­fore the IWMCA runs its reg­u­lar two-day com­pe­ti­tion start­ing af­ter Christ­mas.

With Swifts and East­ern Taipans strug­gling for num­bers late last sea­son, the South East Red­backs were formed in the off-sea­son.

“From a club point of view, we are pretty ex­cited that the Taipans have joined with Swifts,’’ Raleigh said, hav­ing been in­volved with Red­bank-based teams for many years.

“It’s cer­tainly built the strength up in the num­bers.’’

With Thun­der with­draw­ing its team from first di­vi­sion this sea­son, the five IWMCA sides play­ing are Cen­trals, North­siders, Lai­d­ley, Broth­ers and South East Red­backs.

Join­ing the IWMCA teams in the one day in­ter­city com­pe­ti­tion are de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Wests, along with Metropoli­tan Easts, High­fields, Univer­sity and North­ern Broth­ers Dig­gers.

“Every­body en­joyed it,’’ Raleigh said of last year’s new for­mat be­tween the two crick­et­ing cen­tres.

He said the off-sea­son changes had pro­vided some ex­tra chal­lenges draft­ing a draw.

How­ever, IWMCA se­nior co-or­di­na­tor Eleesa Lewis said the one-day com­pe­ti­tion draw was pre­pared and ready to go.

“It’s a full round this year so ev­ery­one plays each other once,’’ she said. “There’s no pools or any­thing like that.

“I think it will be a lot bet­ter.’’

The other main change is play­ing the se­ries un­der a 50 over for­mat, af­ter last year ex­per­i­ment­ing with a 45 over con­cept.

She said the ad­just­ment fol­lowed an online sur­vey at the end of last sea­son.

“One of their big things was play­ing a full 50 overs

. . . so we’ve changed that this year,’’ she said.

“Most of our com­ments were all pos­i­tive with what we’ve al­ready been do­ing.’’

Matches will start at 10am on Satur­day, with one Sun­day game needed to com­plete the draw re­quire­ments.

This year’s one day fi­nal se­ries will be split over two week­ends af­ter be­ing con­tested on con­sec­u­tive days in the in­au­gu­ral sea­son.

That means the semi-fi­nals will be fought out on De­cem­ber 9 or 10, with the fi­nal sched­uled for Jan­uary 14.

With Thun­der con­cen­trat­ing on re­build­ing in sec­ond di­vi­sion, Lewis said a bye would be in­cluded in the IWMCA two-day com­pe­ti­tion start­ing in the new year.

She said the IWMCA sec­ond di­vi­sion com­pe­ti­tion would also have a bye each round due to the Swifts-Taipans merger.

Lewis was fi­nal­is­ing the draw for the third and fourth grade com­pe­ti­tions.

She was also work­ing on a sched­ule for the an­nual T20 Mon­day night com­pe­ti­tion, which is set to start next month with a sec­ond di­vi­sion se­ries added.

❝ There’s no pools of any­thing like that. I think it will be a lot bet­ter.

— Eleesa Lewis

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

FINE WORK: Swifts wick­et­keeper Steve Hom­burg takes a ter­rific catch last sea­son. Swifts and Taipans have merged to form a new team.

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