MANNING, Hastings and Macleay cricket associations will conduct meetings this month in the next stage towards the formation of a premier league first grade competition next season.
The associations will seek input from club delegates and current first grade players. Under the plan the premier league would include teams from the three associations. Mid North Coast Council president Gordon Cross from Wingham said the three associations have until the end of this month to make submissions to the council.
“Once we know who is on board the Mid North Coast executive and club delegates will formulate playing conditions and also complete a draw. We would expect to have all that information available by the start of August,’’ Mr Cross explained.
Mr Cross is also the Manning River District Cricket secretary.
He believes it is time the three associations pit their first grade sides against each other in combined competition, saying this will provide more of a challenge and a greater variety.
Mr Cross pointed out that the number of first grade teams has declined in all associations in recent years.
“The associations have only three or four teams each in their first grade competitions,'’ he said.
Mr Cross agreed with comments in the Manning River Times and Port Macquarie News from Manning Cricket president Ryan Williams, Hastings secretary Matt Day and Hastings inter-district captain Josh Hyde, who all support the proposal.
“This only emphasises the need for change,’’ he said.
“It is basically now or never as support for a premier league has never been stronger. Talk among most of the first grade players is more positive than in previous attempts.’’
Mr Cross recalled that around 15 years ago Manning officials David Burley and Craig Martin pushed hard to implement a similar competition among the Mid North Coast clubs.
“There was some support from the Hastings but no association at the time fully backed the concept,’’ he added.
“Now Hastings are on board as they can know see the need for change.’’
He said there is still some opposition from the Macleay association. However he is sure that once the details are finalised Macleay would come on board.
Mr Cross also believes a premier league would provide more of an incentive for juniors to stay in the game as it would give them a stronger competition to aim for.
Mr Cross said at the Mid North Coast annual meeting that he thought the MNC inter-district First X1 competition was getting old and stale, with a number of players now not interested with matches held on Sundays.
“The Regional Big Bash T20 concept has been more positive this season and merging associations into a premier league would give selectors a greater scope when they name the Mid North Coast Stingers side,’’ he added.
The Stingers were just one win away from making the semi-finals when beaten by Northern Rivers Rock. Northern Rivers went on to contest the final played at the SCG.
Three of the four current Manning first grade captains backed the proposal when contacted by the Times last month.