NINE teams will contest the inaugural McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League cricket competition to start on Saturday October 7.
“We did hope to have 10, but the Bonny Hills/Lake Cathie side couldn’t get enough numbers,’’ Mid North Coast Cricket Council president Gordon Cross said.
“We’ll have a bye now, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing – it’s going to be a packed season so I think the players will appreciate a break.’’
There’ll be three teams from the Manning (United, Wingham and Taree West), four from the Hastings and two from the Macleay. Mr Cross confirmed that at least for the first season, matches between Manning and Macleay teams will be played in the Hastings area to cut down travel.
Matches will be limited overs, starting at 1.30. This will include the semi-finals.
Formation of the premier league followed lengthy negotiations between the three Mid North Coast associations last season. It will be run by the MNC Council and is seen as the biggest revamp ever taken in senior cricket in the region. Mr Cross concedes there are bound to be teething problems.
“Everyone has been working well together, but there’ll be a few hiccups, that always happens with something new,’’ Mr Cross, from Wingham, said.
“At the last Mid North Coast meeting I called on people to be patient in the first year. We’ll strike problems, but we’ll work them out.’’
He said there will be further talks on the makeup of the finals series, although at this stage it will be the top six.
“There’s a bit of talk to switching to a top five because of the loss of the 10th club, so that’s something we’ll have to decide very soon,'’ Mr Cross said.
The premier league is seen as the way to stop the decline in top grade cricket in the area. Mr Cross said the idea is to give players a stronger competition to aim to be involved in, particularly juniors.
He said this is already working, with Ben Cole and Dave Rees switching from Old Bar to Wingham this season, as Old Bar hasn’t nominated for the PL. Some promising players from the Great Lakes will be linking with United, as there’ll be no club from Forster-Tuncurry in the league.
The formation of the premier league was supported by Manning product and NSW Sheffield Shield batsman Nick Larkin when he was in the area recently as part of NSW Cricket’s Country Blitz. Larkin said there appears to be great enthusiasm for the competition throughout the Mid North Coast region.
The premier league will be officially launched at Oxley Oval, Port Macquarie tomorrow by Member for Cowper, Luke Hartsuyker, from 3pm.