Kyabram Free Press

Three-peat bid heats up

- By Josh Huntly

The summer of cricket is fast approachin­g in the Goulburn Valley.

But Goulburn Murray Cricket will be in a race against the clock to get its competitio­n under way by the scheduled season opener on October 2 amid current regional COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

The associatio­n has released its 2021/22 season fixture, with a decimated local football season providing an ominous backdrop for bat and ball preparatio­ns.

But even before the first delivery of the season, change has swept the associatio­n - four new clubs have joined the ranks of the GMC.

Former Northern Districts Cricket Associatio­n clubs Leitchvill­egunbower and Nondies-cohuna have crossed over to field teams in A and B grade, along with their under 16 teams.

Meanwhile, Elmore and Colbinabbi­n have joined the B grade ranks after their move from the Northern United Cricket Associatio­n.

One notable omission from the 2021/22 fixture is Tongala in A grade.

A grade will start proceeding­s on Saturday, October 2, with B grade to follow on October 9.

C and D grade will start on October 16.

Notably, two-day cricket makes its return to the A grade schedule, following a season of one-day games last year in efforts to expedite a potentiall­y Covidaffec­ted campaign.

The league executive is committed to delivering a normal season of cricket despite the current sports climate and GMC operations manager James Stokes says it will hold to a dual-format season regardless of interrupti­ons.

He admits the next few weeks will tell if a season delay is on the cards as the region grapples with a coronaviru­s outbreak.

“We decided back in April that we were going to try and have as close to a normal season as possible, regardless of interrupti­ons,” Stokes said.

“Obviously, what happens in the next few weeks could see us vary on that.

“If we come out (of lockdown) around September 9 or thereabout­s, we’ll still look to start on the second.

“Any later than that, as far as the executive go — we would have to go back to the clubs.

“If we don’t get out until around the 16th or 23rd, well that only gives you about a week to prep. That would then delay the start of our season.”

On the return of the longer format to the top tier, Stokes said it wouldn't matter what happened going forward there would still be two-day cricket involved somewhere.

“If we start three weeks late, it will cost us three one-day games and we’ll still be playing two-day cricket,” he said.

Kyabram Fire Brigade will be looking to complete an A grade three-peat this season, and will open their season against Nondies Cohuna at Northern Oval.

They will then go on to face Echuca Cricket Club in a muchantici­pated grand final rematch in round two at Victoria Park.

Rochester will kick start its A grade campaign against Cooma with an away game, while Bamawm-lockington United will plays last season's grand finalist Echuca at home.

Echuca South travels to Gunbower Recreation Reserve in round one to tackle league newcomer Leitchvill­e-gunbower.

Across the Murray River, Moama Cricket Club will have a bye to open its A grade campaign before hosting Bamawm-lockington United at Moama Recreation Reserve in round two.

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