Warrnambool and District Cricket Association defends semi-final venue choices

WARRNAMBOOL and District Cricket Association has defended its decision to end a long-standing practice of avoiding home-ground advantage in its semi-final series.

Minor premier Allansford will welcome fourth-placed Woodford to Uebergang Oval in a move which irked Eels officials and prompted them to ask for a please explain from the association.

Third-ranked West Warrnambool will play on familiar territory against second-placed Russells Creek at Davidson Oval.

It will be the first time since the 2008-09 season that teams will play semi-finals on their own turf.

Association president Gordon McLeod said venue choices were at the discretion of the match committee.

“The match committee, under the rules, can play matches anywhere deemed appropriate and in this case that’s what the board decided to do,” he said.

“We looked up the grounds to see the best-performing grounds and the wickets and those two grounds’ wickets performed very well through the year. The fact is if the facilities are available, it’s easier for the curators and for the covers to be put on the ground when you’ve got the club there being able to do it or manage it.”

Woodford notified the association of its concerns with McLeod confirming it had sent the Eels a response.

He said the Creekers were happy to play the Panthers’ home ground.

McLeod said “everything was considered” when selecting grounds including swapping the two games and playing Allansford-Woodford at Davidson Oval and Russells Creek-West Warrnambool at Uebergang Oval.

He said Russells Creek’s home ground Jetty Flat “was not suitable”.

“That ground last year got wet and there was a big issue about that,” he said.

Woodford coach John Houston said the Eels were frustrated but needed to move on.

“If you put the games on netural venues then there appears to be no bias towards anyone involved in the league,” he said. “We refocus. We’re over the disappointment of that (decision) and we’re setting ourselves to perform really well.”