By Nick Creely
While there remains so much uncertainty around exactly when the first ball of the cricket season will be bowled in 2020/21, the continual development within the junior ranks of the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) gives plenty of reason for excitement into the future.
The DDCA this season will expand its ever-growing Junior Girls competition to two separate age groups – 13 and under, as well as 17 and under (using stage 2 formats)- in a sign that the competition, which only kicked off in the 2018/19 season is not only popular, but absolutely flourishing.
DDCA vice-president Steven Richards said that the idea of expanding the junior girls competition will benefit everyone involved as it continues to grow at a rapid rate, with the stage 2 formats meaning the girls will get to play on proper synthetic wickets.
“The idea’s been floated around club land for a few years, and we’ve probably been a little bit hesitant, it was just the unknown,” he told Star News.
“And in the first two years we’ve had heaps of people attending and we felt we needed, even in its infancy stage, to grow the competition and expand it.
“At some point in time we had 15, 16 year old girls bowling to nine-year-olds, so we needed to bridge that gap a little bit, and introducing that age group is the way to do it.”
With the DDCA previously announcing that its junior competitions will move to even age groups of Under 10s, 12s, 14s and 16s, Richards said that the introduction of an Under 18 competition – which is planned to be played on turf pitches – is a massive step forward for the development of cricket within the region.
“About 10 or 11 years ago, we had even age groups and finished at 16s, then we obviously moved to the odd age groups,” he said.
“But moving back to the even age groups not only align with the rep cricket, it just allows us to get that extra year of cricket in for those kids and get some exposure.
“And the idea of having the 18s on turf helps give them a bit more exposure to turf cricket, and that’s a good thing for the continual development of our competition.”
The DDCA have also locked in association greats and revered cricketing personalities Matthew Chasemore and Craig Slocombe – two renowned development coaches – to head the Junior Cricket Academy, which will also align itself with the even age groups as it develops the best talent in the region to higher honours.
“I have no doubt with the knowledge and skill set that both champions have they will greatly increase the development of the young kids in our association,” Richards said.
“We are very pleased with the dual announcements. We are extremely excited with these appointments and we are in great hands.”
While the DDCA is still working hard to lock in a proposal to get the junior and season season started at some point this year, Richards said there was genuine optimism that cricket – which is likely to be allowed to resume under Stage 2 restrictions – will be back sooner rather than later.
“We’re in close contact with Cricket Victoria, and our regional manager Emma Gallagher, I’ve had a few meetings with her personally, and we’ve also had a rules and affiliations meeting with all the clubs on Wednesday night,” he said.
“We’ve got some proposals to put in place and then we hope to release it to the clubs by 13 September (when Stage 4 is expected to end), so we’re still working through the finer details of that.
“We’re hopeful of probably late-November (to start), if all the restrictions go down, and that’s the best case.
“But we’re preparing for at the latest, a late-January start.”
If anyone requires further information on how to get involved in any of the DDCA’s junior competitions, they can contact Steven on 0430 599 387 or firstname.lastname@example.org