Cricketers ready to spring into action for 2020/21 season
CLARENCE Valley cricketers will ease out of COVID-19 hibernation and into the 2020/21 summer season over the next two weeks.
Clarence River Cricket Association and North Coast Cricket Council Premier League competitions kick things off with round one this Saturday (Oct 17). While the draw is yet to be published, it is understood Lower Clarence Cricket Association starts the following Saturday (Oct 24).
Who will win the 2020/21 Clarence River Cricket Association GDSC Premier League title?
The usual start date for the cricket season is the weekend after the October long weekend (ie Oct 10), but was pushed back to help handle the magnitude of changes and challenges due to COVID-19.
New CRCA president Derek Woods is looking forward to getting action underway this weekend, with more teams than initially expected nominating across three grades in positive signs for the sport locally.
With a return to three grades for the first time in three years, early indications from clubs pointed towards four teams in Premier League, four in Second Grade and five in Third Grade. However, additional nominations from Westlawn and Easts will see six teams contest Second Grade.
"Easts have nominated a second team with players coming from the Lower comp, and Westlawn have got the numbers," Woods said.
"It's fantastic. Bringing back Second Grade was what the association needed to strengthen the cricket. The stepping stone from Third Grade to Premier League is too big."
• PREMIER LEAGUE: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, Brothers, South Services, Easts/Westlawn
• 2ND GRADE: 2x Easts, Tucabia-Copmanhurst, South Services, Coutts Crossing, Westlawn
• 3RD GRADE: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, Brothers, Easts, Westlawn, Coutts Crossing
"There is an interest to get back on the field," Woods said.
"The vibe I'm getting is that cricket was prematurely finished last year, and some would say unfinished business."
In a masterstroke by the fixtures committee, round one in Premier League will mirror last season's semi-finals, which were the last matches played before the pandemic brought the competition to an untimely halt and by virtue handed South Services their first title since 1997-98. Ulmarra Hotel Tucabia-Copmanhurst host South Services at Ulmarra Showground and Brothers Clocktower Hotel take GDSC Easts/Jacaranda Hotel Westlawn at McKittrick Park.
The revamped Ellem Oval remains out of action, which means one of the three Second Grade matches each week will be bumped to JJ Lawrence Synthetic until after the Christmas break on January 9.
This week sees the clash between GDSC Easts Valley Finance and Sunline Fencing Tucabia-Copmanhurst favouring the concrete bullies, while there will be turf action between Westlawn and South Services at Lower Fisher and Coutts Crossing and GDSC Easts Poplar Sheds at JJ Lawrence.
In Third Grade, B&S Kitchens Tucabia Copmanhurst host Brothers at Victoria Park, Westlawn and GDSC Easts JDs Take Away do battle at Lower Fisher and Coutts Crossing have another week to stretch the legs.
The grand finals will be played on the weekend of March 27-28.
Meanwhile the Cleavers Mechanical Twenty20 Competition played on Wednesday nights under lights at McKittrick Park has expanded to eight teams, with nominations from bolstered LCCA side Lawrence and NCCC Premier League side Northern Districts.
"It's great we've created a bit of hype with the Twenty20 comp and that teams from outside the zone are asking us to play," Woods said.
Stories from the off-season:
While players will and officials will need to quickly adjust to some new health and safety guidelines, Woods was confident the transition will be relatively smooth.
"Nathan Lyon from NSW Cricket did a presentation (at the CRCA meeting on Oct 8) on what we need to do before, during and after matches for COVID," he said.
"There's a few things to get used to, but nothing out of the ordinary that we should be afraid of or concerned about. We've just all got to work together to get on the field."
The North Coast Premier League competition will consist of a mixture of twenty20, one-day and two-day matches.
This Saturday will see two rounds played on adjacent fields at Sawtell's Richardson Park, with Sawtell facing Harwood and Northern Districts against Valleys at 12pm and Northern Districts versus Sawtell and Valleys up against Harwood at 3.30pm.
Clarence River Cricket Association and a NCCC Development Squad will play in the one-day fixtures only, and matches involving those teams will be played on Sundays.
A final for the one-day component of the competition will be played on February 7 while the grand final proper will be on March 20-21.