MID North Coast Cricket Council’s executive will decide at its December meeting the number of teams to play in the inaugural semi-finals series of the McDonalds Premier League competition next March.
Nine sides from the Manning to the Macleay are contesting the premier league. Initially the council hoped to run with a six team semi-finals.
However, MNC president Gordon Cross said this has been compromised by scheduling commitments for the Regional Big Bash with the premier league draw. The northern round, featuring the Macquarie Coast Stingers, was to be played at Coffs Harbour last month. The date was announced after the MNC draw had been put in place. It was decided there would be a general bye in the premier league that weekend. The big bash was a victim of wet weather and will now be played at Coffs on December 2 and 3.
Mr Cross said ensuring there’s enough weeks to play two full rounds of the premier league before the start of semi-finals, while also having the grand final before Easter, will be the trick.
“I think it is most likely we’ll run with four teams because of the time factor, ’’ he explained.
While wet weather has caused some problems, Mr Cross said he has been happy so far with the first season of the premier league. The competition goes into its seventh round tomorrow.
“The feedback I’m getting from the players has been positive. I was talking to a couple of players from Wingham the other day and they said how much they’re enjoying playing different teams at different venues.’’
Former Old Bar player Hugh Polson is now turning out for Taree West in the McDonalds Mid North Coast Premier League.
Only four clubs had contested the Manning first grade in the past two years. Three of those sides – United, Wingham and Taree West now play in the premier league, with Old Bar opting not to nominate.
However, Mr Cross said the premier league is attracting players from clubs not involved in competition.
“Hugh and Blake Polson from Old Bar are now with Taree West while United has picked up players from the Great Lakes,’’ he said.
“That was the idea of starting the premier league – to provide a stronger competition for the better players.’’
Mr Cross said a decision is also pending on whether a Manning ‘grand final’ featuring the two leading teams in the premier league – regardless of where they finish in the overall standings – is played.
United captain Ricky Campbell spoke against the concept when interviewed in the Friday Sport Talk segment on the Manning River Times Facebook page before the start of the premier league.
“We’ll be seeking input from the clubs and players before we decide,’’ Mr Cross said.