Shepparton News

MOAMA HAS BORDER CLOSURE PROBLEM

HARD BORDER CLOSURE MAKES LIFE HARD FOR MAGPIES AND NORTHERN UNITED AS SEASON LOOMS

- By Josh Huntly and Meg Saultry

Goulburn Murray Cricket action is just around the corner — pending coronaviru­s restrictio­ns — and preparatio­ns are in full swing for most clubs.

But for some, hard border closures are scuppering any sense of a normal pre-season campaign.

The GMC is expected to make further announceme­nts on the outlook of the 2021-22 season following a league meeting on Monday night.

Moama Cricket Club just wants to play — somewhere, anywhere.

But to do that, the NSW-based side has to assess its options as it wrestles with the “great unknown” of the coming season.

With less than a month until the scheduled Goulburn Murray Cricket season start, it looks likely Moama and Northern United will be locked out of competitio­n due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A hard border currently partitions the clubs from their Victorian counterpar­ts and further compoundin­g the issue is players in the border towns are currently unable to obtain permits to cross for community sport.

Moama president Kirk Teasdale said while nothing was set in concrete, the club was weighing up its best options for playing, given the GMC is largely a Victorian competitio­n.

“We’ve just got to explore all options at the moment — we just have to for those guys who want to play cricket,” Teasdale said.

“We’ve got so many blokes in Echuca that play with us. This is where you go ‘who’s going to play, who’s not?’ ”

A similar issue presented itself before the 2020-21 season, as Victoria lurched out of lockdown during September last year.

In that scenario, Moama considered a temporary move into Murray Valley Cricket Associatio­n, with the majority of clubs in the MVCA located in NSW.

An 11th-hour easing of restrictio­ns across the border allowed Moama to remain in the GMC, but Teasdale said the club was now revisiting that option on the back of the uncertain border arrangemen­ts.

“It’s a similar situation,” he said. “At the end of the day, we might not have any choice. Last year we were lucky because (the border) actually opened two to three weeks before the season started.

“Nothing’s set in concrete obviously.”

With three senior teams, three junior teams and a women’s side, Moama could face bloated travel times in an effort to play before Christmas should the move to the MVCA eventuate.

“Obviously the towns are a bit further away than Echuca, Ky, Rochy etc,” Teasdale said.

“Our closest (opponent) would be Deni which is 45 (minutes), but then you’ve got Barooga which is an hour, along with Finley.”

If past form is anything to go by, you can expect Rochester to be up there at the pointy end of the upcoming GMC A-grade season.

A flag, a second placing and a preliminar­y final loss in the past three seasons highlights Rochester’s long-running threat to the rest of the competitio­n.

And on the eve of another cricket campaign, the club is again ready to make its run for the f lag.

After Victoria’s latest COVID-19 lockdown postponed the start of pre-season training, Rochester’s cricketers finally got their first training session under the belt on Sunday.

“We blew a few of the cobwebs out and everyone is looking pretty good,” returning captain Sean Williams said.

The squad isn’t expected to change much, though a major blow comes with the loss of rising star Waugh George to Bendigo.

But with one door closing, another opens, with plenty of opportunit­y on offer this season for the next generation of cricketers coming through.

“Hopefully a few more young guys step up and we go deep into the finals,” Williams said.

“We’re just hoping to blood the young kids and give them a go. As the younger guys get older and more experience­d, they’ll definitely get better.

“And if our older blokes keep doing what they’ve been doing, we should be able to keep up in that top four.”

Since Rochester United and Rochester Tigers merged ahead of the 2018-19 season, the club went on to defeat Kyabram Fire Brigade in that year’s final before falling to the same team in the 2019-20 final and 2020-21 preliminar­y final.

With two missed opportunit­ies in recent years, Williams said the fire for another flag burned bright.

“It definitely fuels the fire and makes the boys more hungry to get that winning feeling in the finals series,” he said.

“I haven’t won a flag as captain yet, so it definitely drives me to take that step further.

“We just want to be a successful club and team.”

With the season fast approachin­g Williams said the inclusion of several new teams gave the competitio­n a fresh spark.

“It definitely makes it more exciting and that is a challenge within itself; to figure out who is in their side and how they play their cricket,” Williams said.

Up against Cooma in the season opener, Williams said it was full steam ahead towards a winning start.

“I haven’t heard too much on Cooma, but for us, we need to go out with a positive vibe and try and make as many runs as possible,” he said.

“We’re confident we can defend any score we put up, so we just need to play with freedom and enjoy our cricket this year.”

Homegrown talent Tyler Jones has returned to lead Leitchvill­eGunbower Cricket Club as the club begins its Goulburn Murray Cricket era.

Jones is back at the club after spending the 2020-21 season with Kyabram Fire Brigade, where he notched 416 runs in its A-grade premiershi­p-winning year.

While he enjoyed his time at Fire Brigade, the lure of leading his home club was an irresistib­le factor in his decision to return.

“We’re all homegrown from Leitchvill­e-Gunbower,” Jones said.

“I thought I’d love to come back and take the reins a bit.”

Jones, alongside club stalwart James Keath, will co-captain the club in lieu of a senior coach and they’re favouring LG’s young talent to carry the bat for the new kids on the GMC block, opting against a recruiting spree.

“We’ve got a good base of kids,” Jones said.

“The good thing about us is we’re all locally grown. We won’t have any paid players or anything like that.

“We’ve got a young group who are all keen and looking forward to the challenge.

“A lot of us have had the taste of Goulburn Murray Cricket, so we know what we’re in for.”

LG crossed over form the Northern District Cricket Associatio­n to the GMC alongside the newlymerge­d Nondies-Cohuna earlier in the year, and will field sides in the A grade men and women’s competitio­n, along with B-grade and under-16s.

Jones is aware of the challenge awaiting the A-grade outfit in the new competitio­n, with a lack of two-day experience and a hole in its batting line-up tipped to be the only drawback.

“It’s going to be a challenge for us, especially in the two-day format,” Jones said.

“The league we were coming from, Northern District, they canned the two-day games years and years ago, so we’ve just been focused on one-day cricket for the last eight to 10 years.

“That’s going to be an eyeopener for a few of our younger players.

“We’re probably lacking one or two really top-line batsmen. But we know each other’s games inside and out, so that should hold us in pretty good stead.”

LG’s first assignment in the competitio­n’s top tier will be Echuca South.

 ??  ?? Up in the air, again: Kirk Teasdale and Moama are assessing their options as the 2021-22 season draws near.
Up in the air, again: Kirk Teasdale and Moama are assessing their options as the 2021-22 season draws near.
 ??  ?? Back to business: Rochester’s Sean Williams is confident his team has what it takes to make finals again.
Back to business: Rochester’s Sean Williams is confident his team has what it takes to make finals again.
 ??  ?? Back home: Tyler Jones returns to lead Leitchvill­eGunbower in Goulburn Murray Cricket this season.
Back home: Tyler Jones returns to lead Leitchvill­eGunbower in Goulburn Murray Cricket this season.

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