Merrivale coach Justin Lynch says the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to recruit players for this Warrnambool and District Cricket Association season.
But he's buoyed by the growth of the club's young players who he feels are "ready to take the next step" in their development.
"I've found it harder than normal without (in-person) meetings - there have been a lot of COVID lockdowns which has meant a lot of phone conversations and text messages," he said of recruiting.
"It's been quite difficult and I don't think the pool of players is out there as what there used to be.
"Obviously, it's hard to recruit in cricket, a lot of clubs don't pay cash like football clubs do and all that, which makes it hard to try and pull blokes from other clubs.
"But our main priority has been to push through what we've got."
Exposing the club's youth to top-level cricket is a focus for the second-year mentor.
"You can bring in recruits and yep if there's a really good player out there you want to bring them in, obviously," he said.
"And sometimes you can bring in recruits and stunt the growth of your kids.
"So it's all about getting as many games into the kids (as possible)."
The Tigers have some of the best young talent in the south-west with the likes of Theo Opperman, Ryan Fleming, Wil Fleming and Flynn Wilkinson among the young brigade.
"A lot of them have played two, three or four years of division one and they start to believe in themselves and work out how to play senior cricket and start feeling as though they belong," the coach said.
Lynch feels the Tigers are in a good spot after they finished runner-up in the Twenty20 cup last year and just missed out on the two-day finals.
"We're really confident this year. Last year, we finished fifth, just outside of the four but there were a lot of games where we felt like we were in it," he said.
"There was probably two or three games, where we didn't play overly well but most games throughout last year, we were right in it and had our chances to win and we just didn't seize the moment in quite a few of them.
"That was probably the difference between us making finals and not, we lost a few games by 15 or 20 runs."
He feels the Tigers will get better as the summer goes on and they develop their game sense.
Lynch is a fan of the league's decision to stick to short-form cricket this season because of the pandemic.
"Just with the way cricket's being going over the past few years and numbers dwindling," he said.
"I think blokes can commit to one week - especially with your lower divisions as well it (short-form) helps out there.
"I feel as a though division two cricket should have been one-dayers for the past 10 to 15 years."
Lynch said he actually preferred two-day cricket but could see the value of limited overs.
"At times now I think one-day cricket suits and games are all over within one day," he said.
"It makes it easier to select sides and probably keep the numbers.
"Sometimes I think less is more for cricket, especially because we're competing against football.
"I feel as though some kids just get burnout by the time cricket comes around especially juniors - they're playing weeknights, Saturdays and they play a turf match on a Sunday or something like that.
"By the time they get to 16, 17, 18 (years of age) they feel as though 'oh stuff cricket, there's better things to do'.
"And there are more things to do for kids then there was 20, 30, 40 years ago."
Lynch, a tradesman, also highlighted tradies were finding it hard to play because of their work.
"It's got so busy over here the past two or three years (for tradies), especially over COVID, it's been ridiculously busy and I feel as though a lot of blokes are just working instead of playing cricket on a Saturday because they have to just to try and catch up on their work," he said.
"So that's been a big issue at the moment."
Lynch also felt there was too much cricket last summer, especially toward the end of the season.
"We played so much Twenty20 cricket - we played in the grand final," he said.
"Over that Christmas period I think we played like eight games over 16 days - there was a lot.
"Because we were playing Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays some weeks and then you've got training.
"So it got really difficult towards the end.
"Especially with a young side. It's probably harder to keep the young blokes up."
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