ORGANISERS of the Western Waves Festival of Cricket are confident of a “great spectacle” when the best regional cricketers converge on Hamilton.
Seven associations have entered representative sides for the annual Twenty20 bonanza, which gets under way on Friday night and wraps up on Sunday.
Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA), South West Cricket (SWC), Hamilton and District Cricket Association (HDCA) and Horsham are the four division one contenders vying for the Western Waves Shield.
WDCA, SWC and HDCA also have sides in division two, which has the Hopper-Crisp Trophy up for grabs.
They are joined by Wimmera-Mallee, West Wimmera and Casterton and District in the six-team second tier.
The tournament starts when Hamilton meets Casterton in a division two match at Clem Young Oval on Friday night.
The rest of the round-robin matches are on Saturday, with the two finals on Sunday.
HDCA president and Festival of Cricket organiser Lloyd Ilett said he expected the tournament to be a hit with fans.
“Unfortunately there’s no entries from Mount Gambier, Portland or Grassmere,” he said.
“But those that are here are going to provide a great spectacle in both divisions.
“Warrnambool are currently the champions in division one and division two.”
The division one matches are all on turf, at Clem Young Oval and Tarrington Recreation Reserve.
In division two, all but the tournament opener are on hard wickets and will be played at Hamilton Recreation Reserve, Mitchell Park and KFC Oval.
The finals will be played at Clem Young Oval.
Rain has ruled out turf wickets at Melville Oval, Dahl Oval and Hamilton College.
“We could’ve had all our games on turf if our grounds were up to scratch, but they’re not,” Ilett said.
“And it’s a very early start to this competition. Normally it’s held in December.”
The 2013 Festival of Cricket will be the last time Hamilton hosts the tournament for at least two years.
A decision at the Western Waves’ annual meeting means one of the northern associations will take over hosting rights in 2014.
The tournament will return to a southern association in 2015 and alternate each year after that.
“Hamilton will probably not apply for it when it comes back to the south, so Warrnambool or South West deserve to host it next,” Ilett said.