WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association officials have knocked back an 11th-hour bid to include more clubs in the Twenty20 tournament finals.
But the decision to persevere with a top-two format yesterday won support from the same clubs which backed the push for a top-four system.
Allansford and Woodford will face off in the WDCA Twenty20 grand final on January 8 after finishing first and second after the three-week tournament.
They were among five clubs, Brierly-Christ Church, Russells Creek Blue and Nestles the others, to emerge with 5-1 records.
But there was almost as much drama off the field midweek than there was at cricket grounds across the district on Saturday.
A petition to expand the finals series, to either a top-four or top-eight system, circulated among clubs and prompted the WDCA board to meet on Friday night.
The petition, which had the support of the majority — but not all — clubs, arose after the tournament was seemingly headed for a down-to-the-wire finish.
But WDCA general manager Michael Harrison said the board was not prepared to make such a drastic change during the competition.
“The board was never in its opinion prepared to bring in semi-finals because everything we’ve done and set in place will be reviewed at the end of the year,” he said.
“Certainly the board will take on board what’s come out of the suggestions made in the letter, which the majority of clubs backed.
“There were certainly more than a few clubs which didn’t agree with changing the format now because we’d started the season.”
Harrison said having just two clubs progress past the round-robin stage was a decision made during the off-season.
He said clubs had indicated “they didn’t want too much Twenty20” at the landmark Cricket Futures Forum in February.
“With the Festival of Cricket weekend coming forward to November, we thought we’d play all our Twenty20 cricket before that,” he said.
“We’ve give each club six games to play, two games each day, then we decided just to have a final.
Brierly-Christ Church was one of the unlucky clubs which had the same 5-1 record as Allansford and Woodford but an inferior net run rate.
The Bulls placed third, beating West Warrnambool in a super over and East Warrnambool-YCW in their matches on Saturday.
Captain Jason Greer said the club backed the petition for a top-four finals series.
But he believed the board had made the right decision in not changing the format mid-tournament.
“I talked to Mick Harrison last night,” he said.
We had a chat and I mentioned to him it would’ve been better with a top-four.
“The first year of the round-robin — I’m sure there will be changes next year.
“You go into the competition knowing what the rules are.
‘‘It’d be pretty ordinary to change it halfway through to suit a few clubs.”
Russells Creek Blue skipper Nathan Divall was likewise diplomatic, saying the board was in a “no-win situation”.
Divall said Creek, which finished the tournament also with a 5-1 record, backed the petition.
But he was happy the board stuck to its guns, noting that support for the change was not unanimous.
“Preferably it would’ve been before the competition was under way,” he said.
“But even at a later date it had to be unanimous, which it wasn’t.”
The winner of the Allansford-Woodford Twenty20 final will be the WDCA representative at the Sungold Cup in January.
The cup, which features representatives from eight associations, carries $25,000 prizemoney, including $15,000 for the winner, last season.