Major changes for Clarence Cricket in season 2020/21
• New president Derek Woods to lead Clarence River Cricket Association into uncertain future
• CRCA to return to three grades for the first time since 2016/17
• Junior sub-committee to be formed to rescue junior cricket in the region
• CovidSafe plans to be implemented including a safety officer required at all cricket matches and training
STRICT Covid-19 guidelines, a competition restructure, a complete overhaul of juniors and a new president highlight an upcoming season of significant change for Clarence River Cricket Association.
Many were uncertain cricket would even go ahead in 2020/21 prior to the CRCA committee meeting held at Grafton District Services Club last Thursday, September 10.
However, newly elected president Derek Woods, who relinquished his position at the helm of Tucabia-Copmanhurst to fill the shoes vacated by Tim Kinnane, soon had the confidence of those in attendance.
A strong turnout also reassured doubters that people want to see cricket survive and thrive in the region post Covid-19, six months after the pandemic brought the 2019-20 season to a premature end, and handing South Services their first Premier League title since 1997-98 in bittersweet circumstances.
In a major positive for the association, Clarence River cricketers will contest three grades again for the first time since the 2016/17 season. On that occasion 21 teams took to the field, in what was Tom Kroehnert's last as CRCA president and the same year Grafton hosted the last NSW Country Cup and Plate knockout finals.
However, this year it is anticipated that 13 teams will take the field - the same number as last season.
From the indications of club presidents at the meeting, Premier League will comprise four teams in 2020/21, Second Grade will also have four teams, and five teams will fight out the Third Grade competition.
All six clubs have expressed interest in the Cleavers Mechanical Twenty20 Night Cricket competition played under lights at McKittrick Park every Wednesday night. It is understood they will be joined by Lower Clarence side Lawrence, who have been bolstered by several former Harwood Premier League players this season.
• PREMIER LEAGUE: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, Brothers, South Services, Easts-Westlawn
• 2ND GRADE: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, South Services, Easts, Coutts Crossing
• 3RD GRADE: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, Brothers, Easts, Westlawn, Coutts Crossing
• NIGHT CRICKET: Tucabia-Copmanhurst, Brothers, South Services, Easts, Westlawn, Coutts Crossing, Lawrence.
Due to ground availability and preseason disruptions, it is planned for the season to start a week later than usual on Saturday, October 17.
Premier League will likely comprise of six rounds of two-day matches and six rounds of one-day matches, while Second (40 overs per innings) and Third (30 overs per innings) grades will play 18 rounds of one-day matches.
Based on discussions at the meeting, there will be no senior matches played on the weekend of Saturday, December 19 due to a junior representative carnival being hosted by Grafton, while the Christmas break will include the weekends of December 26 and January 2, with play resuming on January 9.
March 13 will be set aside as a wet weather weekend while finals will be shortened to a two-week series with the top three teams in each grade to qualify. The second and third placed teams will play on March 20-21 for the right to face the minor premiers in the decider on March 27-28.
Meanwhile, Clarence River expressed interest for a North Coast Cricket Council proposal to shift the North Coast Premier League competition from Saturdays to Sundays, which would in effect allow Clarence River and other sides to enter a representative side comprising of players from various clubs.
Coutts Crossing is the only club from the Clarence River association to have previously ventured into the higher tier competition, merging with Coffs Colts to form a side in its inaugural season in 2018/19, while Grafton had zero representation last year.
Poor attendance at Clarence River Junior Cricket Association meetings in recent years came to a head last month when only two people turned up to the annual general meeting. The issue was raised at the CRCA meeting where it was proposed for the junior association to be merged with the seniors.
Those in attendance voted in favour of a junior sub-committee being formed under the Clarence River Cricket Association, with at least one member from each club represented on the committee.
One of the major challenges facing cricket associations will be the implementation of CovidSafe plans. These will be enforced at all training sessions and matches, with each club to provide a Covid safety officer in each instance.
All junior and senior players interested in playing cricket this season are encouraged to register via the PlayCricket website. Find your club in the list below: