GRASSMERE Cricket Association officials hope Twenty20 cricket will become a permanent feature of their competition.
The association will stage a round-robin Twenty20 tournament for the first time, on January 4 and 5.
The move breaks new ground for the association, which has historically been reluctant to add the short-form matches on to the season calendar.
GCA president James Sinnott said the tournament had received strong support from the member clubs.
Sinnott told The Standard that the winning club would receive prizemoney and entry into the lucrative Sungold Cup, staged around Australia Day.
Previously, the winner of the GCA one-day final contested the Sungold Cup, a knockout tournament featuring clubs from eight regional associations.
“We’ve dangled a carrot and made it necessary for people to want to play (Twenty20),” Sinnott said.
“The original idea was to play for premiership points. But we felt we wanted something more, so we went with this instead of premiership points.”
Sinnott said the GCA hoped the introduction of Twenty20 at association level would spark interest in contesting 2014 Western Waves Festival of Cricket.
“The idea of introducing Twenty20 cricket in our competition is to eventually be able to field a side in the Festival of Cricket,” he said yesterday.
“The Festival of Cricket is early November and we felt we weren’t quite ready for it.
“If we can generate interest in our own competition, we can then put together a team for next year.”
The Grassmere Cricket Association A grade season starts on October 12 with the first of seven rounds of one-day matches.
The one-day final will remain a part of the fixture and will carry prizemoney for the winner.
The Twenty20 tournament takes up the first weekend in January before seven rounds of two-day cricket round out the regular season.
Semi-finals are on March 15 and 16 while the grand final is March 22 and 23.
Mailors Flat returns to A grade, in place of Panmure Pups, in what is the only change to the competition make-up.
Sinnott said the GCA was rapt to have the Jets back in the top grade.
“Last year when they had the B grade side, they were always hoping at some stage, sooner rather than later, they could go up to A grade,” he said.
“They recognised there was a bye there, although we had Panmure Pups take up that void last season.
“It was ideal for Mailors Flat to come back in.
‘‘To their credit, they’ve worked pretty hard during last season putting the feelers out.”
The Grassmere Cricket Association will also contest Bendigo Country Week.
The association made its debut in the competition last year, reaching the division three grand final.
There will be a sole junior competition, at under 15 level, with five sides likely to compete.