Time of change for Warrnambool cricket

WARRNAMBOOL cricket is set for structural changes following a forum about the sport’s future.

Just what the changes will be and when they will be introduced remain open for debate as organisers of Monday night’s forum ponder the feedback garnered during an “intense” two-hour talk-fest at Warrnambool’s Davidson Oval.

It is understood the scheduling of junior competitions was a major talking point.

Warrnambool and District Cricket Association general manager Michael Harrison said 90 people attended the forum, which was facilitated by former Cricket Australia media manager Lachy Patterson.

The forum was called after a series of stories by The Standard highlighted a number of issues with the sport, including a decline in senior players, a greater reliance on juniors and a drop in the number of teams this season. The aim of Monday night was to increase participation.

Players, club officials and supporters were broken into groups which spent 10 minutes discussing seven separate topics, including one-day matches, two-day games, juniors, senior cricket, umpires and structures.

Harrison said each group’s feedback on each topic was being collated by Patterson so the WDCA board could assess what changes were needed.

He said he could not speculate on what areas would be reviewed but conceded changes were needed, according to participants.

Harrison said the association wanted to draw up a list of immediate, medium and short-term priorities.

“We were overwhelmed with the numbers who attended,” Harrison said.

“Representatives from the Victorian Country Cricket League and Cricket Victoria were there and it was noted this was one of the first times a forum like this was held in country Victoria.

“During the evening, the board and myself walked around and listened into what was being said and it was very interesting feedback.”

Harrison said a group of 16 under 17 players had attended.

“The kids let their thoughts out and that was great,” he said.

“They are our future.”

One of the talking points this season has been the scheduling of under 17 games on Saturday mornings. 

With teenagers having part-time work and limits on the number of overs they can bowl in a day, numbers in under 17s haven’t been strong and the restrictions have had an impact on senior grades with so many juniors making up the numbers.

“There was mixed thoughts on everything which is good because it will give us a wide view of everything,” Harrison said.

He said the association had developed a strategy eight years ago but he was unsure what had been implemented. 

Harrison said the latest forum would be used to guide the association in coming years.

“There will be some change,” he said.

“In some areas there will be some change made next year.

“Our aim was to see what we have to do to make cricket better in Warrnambool at any level. There were a few comments that came out of left field and they will be looked at.”

Patterson said he had 80 pieces of butcher’s paper to sort through before presenting a condensed report on the feedback. He said he would not make recommendations to the association but present a report that gave the board evidence for decisions.

grbest@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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