MID North Coast Cricket Council has set a March deadline for clubs to nominate for the proposed premier league competition.
However, at this stage it appears that a six or seven team competition will be underway from next October.
MNC president Gordon Cross from Wingham said all three member associations, Manning Hastings and Macleay will have teams in the premier league. There was initially some resistance from the Macleay, however, association president Matthew Brennan told the Macleay Argus last week that he was confident two or three teams from the area would nominate.
Mr Brennan said there was concern in the Hastings about the amount of travel involved to play matches against the Manning sides. However, it has since been verified that games featuring Manning and Macleay teams would be played at Port Macquarie or Wauchope.
Mr Cross said at this stage two of the four Manning first grade clubs – United and Wingham – have backed the proposal.
“Old Bar don’t think they’ll have the players of required standard, while Taree West say they have players leaving the area,’’ Mr Cross said.
He said a six or seven team first grade competition would still be better than the status quo. There's only four clubs in the Hastings A-grade and a similar number on the Macleay.
“There is support for the premier league across the board from the three associations – unlike 16 or 17 years ago when it was first proposed,’’ he said.
Mr Cross added the council is still seeking input from clubs and the matter will be discussed again at tonight’s Manning association meeting. He is also the secretary of Manning Cricket.
Once nominations are finalised the council will have a draw in place as soon as possible.
“We’d like that to be completed by June or July to give everyone plenty of time to get things organised,’’ he said.
The new competition would be underway from Saturday October 7. All matches would be 40-over-a-side.
Mr Cross said it is ‘likely’ there would still be a Manning first grade final played next season between the two leading local sides in the premier league – even if there are only two Manning teams in the proposed league.
He added that if the premier league doesn’t go ahead there will be changes to senior cricket in the Manning. This would probably involve combining the first and second grade competitions. Five sides play in second grade this season.
“And there are going to be people who don’t want that,’’ he said.
He believes a premier league, involving the best players from the Manning to the Macleay, is a much better option.
Mr Cross confirmed the amalgamation would only impact the first grade competition, with no change to the minor grades.
However, the Mid North Coast inter-district First XI cricket competition will be a casualty if the Mid North Coast premier league goes ahead.
Mr Cross has said previously he believes interest has waned in First XI cricket.
However, the popular under 19s and over 35 competitions will continue at inter-district level.