STATE representative commitments have robbed Mount Gambier of a host of high-profile cricketers for the Cross-Border Cup.
Kieran Ashby, Bray Stephenson, Josh Reader, Adam Somerfield and Nick Savage will not feature in the annual grudge match against Warrnambool at Penola on Sunday.
The group has spent the past fortnight representing South Australia at the Australian Country Cricket Championships (ACCC) at Bundaberg, Queensland.
The championships wrapped up on Monday, with New South Wales taking the top honours. Victoria was runner-up while South Australia placed fifth.
MGDCA president Ken Fowles said the timing of the Cross-Border Cup — which has been moved from December — meant it would go ahead six days after the ACCC ended.
“All the Outback guys are still away and not available for this game because it’s a lot later this year,” he said.
“They’re just finishing, they won’t want to be playing cricket all weekend again.
“This year we’ve got a bit of a blend of experience and a couple of former Outback players and some up-and-coming junior talent.”
Penola all-rounder George Kidman, a former Outback representative, will captain the 12-player Mount Gambier team.
Others to play include batsmen Jase Bateman (Penola), Jake Schultz (North Gambier) and Ben Wilson (Yahl).
Alex Hentschke (South Gamber), Matt O’Neil (South Gambier) and Craig Lock (Mil Lel) are all-rounder options.
Mil Lel spearhead Nick Blachut, the leading wicket taker in the MGDCA A grade, North Gambier’s Tim Young and South Gambier’s Robbie Drenthen can take the new ball.
Mount Gambier has also handed opportunities to teenagers Ryan Hosking (West Gambier) and wicketkeeper Mark Smith (South Gambier). The Cross-Border Cup allows Warrnambool players a valuable chance to showcase their Melbourne Country Week credentials.
Mount Gambier players have a similar ambition, hoping to boost their claims for selection in a South-East Zone team for the South Australian Senior Country Carnival.
Fowles said he backed Penola as a host, despite the venue meaning an extra 35 minutes of travel for Warrnambool cricketers.
“They’ve got good facilities and they asked during the year if they could host one of our interleague games,” he said. “Our executive nodded first to handing it to them when they’ve got the resources to handle it well.”
Meanwhile, North Gambier will represent the MGDCA at the inter-association Sungold Cup. Fowles said the club won the right to chase the $15,000 winner’s cheque by winning a Twenty20 tournament at the end of the 2011-12 season.