CRICKET associations across the south-west are confident clubs can meet the challenge of upgrading their hard wickets.
A report into the future of sport in the region shows in the next five years, 26 hard wickets will need to be replaced and brought up to a new standard. Cricket Australia has a recommendation that synthetic pitches need to be 2.4 metres wide, with only 60 per cent of pitches in the region meeting that new standard.
The recommendation also has 25 metres as the required length of pitches, with only 36 per cent in the region at that measurement.
The extra length and width of the pitches have been introduced to make the game kinder to young players taking up the sport.
A spike in girls playing cricket, 72 more girls took up cricket in 2016-17 than the year before, has placed pressure on ground availability.
Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) president Gordon McLeod said it was important for clubs to have their own grounds.
“Sharing grounds is not ideal, clubs need a home base,” McLeod said.
“To get new players and keep them, it is important to have good facilities. That does come at a financial cost and we encourage clubs to know what funding is out there and apply for it. Our clubs are good at doing that."
There are 87 hard wickets in the municipalities covered in the report, including Moyne (15), Corangamite (14), Glenelg (11), Southern Grampians (11) and Warrnambool City (9). The Grassmere Cricket Association (GCA) is made up entirely of teams from Moyne.
GCA president Rhys Dews said clubs in the association were meeting the challenge.
He said new facilities were a key to the growth of the competition.
“A lot of our clubs have had their pitches upgraded already so there are only a few to do,” Dews said.
“We are really keen on getting our own stand-alone junior competition going again and we need good pitches to do that.”