UPWARDLY-mobile cricket clubs Nirranda and East Warrnambool YCW have praised Warrnambool cricket officials for expanding the top-tier competition.
Nirranda president Glenn Dalton and his East counterpart Peter Baulch said the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) had made the right decision by expanding division one from 10 to 12 teams.
The two clubs met with the WDCA to argue for top-grade promotion after a draft competition structure, released last month, had them playing in division two.
Dalton said Nirranda had sought a return to division one since losing a fight to stay in the top grade after the 2008-09 season.
The Knights put forward their case about a fortnight ago, which Dalton said received a warm response.
“We had a good case to put forward. We had a lot of arguments, getting reasons why we weren’t promoted, argued why those reasons were incorrect,” he said.
“To the credit of the board they gave us a fantastic hearing, listened to everything we had to say, threw questions at us as we did to them. We couldn’t have asked for a fairer hearing.”
Dalton said Nirranda playing in division one would allow the club to hold onto players who were considering playing top-grade cricket at other clubs.
He said the club now had a better chance to establish an under 17 side because “your better cricketers, if you don’t have division one, will go somewhere else”.
Baulch, whose club sat down with the league on Monday, said East received “very good feedback” from the league executive.
“Two or three of the board members, we turned their attitude around,” he said.
“To make us viable for the division one spot, there have been significant professional steps our club has taken for the last three years.”
The decision has allowed East to turn its focus to recruiting.
Baulch said the club was close to signing four players, including a couple of top-order batsmen.
“We were quite happy going with the side we had last year, but you lose a couple so you want to gain a couple,” he said.
“But you also want to strengthen your stocks with highly-talented cricketers.”
Baulch said the club hoped to get an under 17 side up next season, although he admitted the following season might be more realistic.
The club is offering incentives for teenagers to don the whites and interested players can contact Baulch on 0418 537 407.
WDCA chairman Nick Frampton released the new competition structure this week.
In a bulletin to clubs, he said the WDCA constitution backed a move to a 12-team top division.