By Nick Creely
The Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA) is aiming for a Saturday, 5 December start at the latest – with the competition confirming the dates to clubs as it looks to get a season underway.
The DDCA has informed clubs of its plans, but has crucially left the door ajar for a 21 November start at the earliest if Melbourne’s Covid case numbers remain low and trigger the potential lifting of restrictions coming forward.
Cricket Victoria only recently released its suggestions for the 2020/21 season to clubs and associations, advising to consider a start date of 14 November for metro Melbourne if restrictions are further eased on the 26 October deadline, allowing enough time to familiarise themselves with Covid protocols, a shortened pre-season, a potential practice match, and preparation of facilities.
However, with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing that metropolitan Melbourne could move ahead of the 26 October deadline and into the next step in mid-October, it could mean that the DDCA can push for an earlier start.
At a DDCA presidents meeting on Thursday, 24 September, the clubs agreed to aim for a 5 December start – allowing enough time for a shortened pre-season, with training expected at this stage to be cleared for 26 October at the latest, but have agreed that if it can start earlier that they will.
It is, however, a season like no other, and like for every association in Victoria, there are a number of changes for the DDCA in 2020/21.
There will be 14 one-dayers played this season, with seven matches to be played with white balls and the other seven with red balls, with matches to be 45 overs per team for Turf 1 and 2 with a 12.30pm start. Other Turf grades will be 40 overs per side and begin at 1pm. All finals will be played in the one-day format.
Synthetic grades will be 36 overs per side and begin at 1pm with 11 matches for the season, with the one-day competition to be amalgamated into the senior synthetic grading.
The DDCA junior season has also been confirmed for a 28 November start, but can start on 21 November at the earliest, and will feature a mixture of one day and two day games, with junior finals to be two-day matches.
The DDCA’s highly-regarded Twenty20 competition, which is usually played midweek, will not proceed this season.
DDCA vice president Steven Richards said it’s exciting to get the dates locked in, and said clubs and the association have quiet optimism that they could start slightly earlier than the December date after doing a lot of background work with the executive to come up with a plan.
“Especially given the numbers, having single figures for the first time in a long time, we’re optimistic to get a late-November, early-December start, and given the recent trends, we’re quietly confident we’re able to start as early as possible,” he said.
“We had a number of scenarios planned out, and we ironed those out as we went along – we wanted to play minimal Sundays, and that December was, I suppose, the last date that we could play to avoid that.”
Richards said it’s terrific to have more clarity and confidence that cricket in the DDCA will proceed this season – something he believes is vital for the community in the summer and for clubs to start planning for the season, as well as iron out Covid-safe plans which are integral part of how community sport can proceed.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback in the last three or four weeks, and I think clubs just want to a start date, so now that they’ve got that start date, they can start doing registrations, and getting the numbers together to work out what sides they can have this season,” he said.
“We’re decided that we now have a date, and hopefully the 21st is going to happen – we want to get out and play as soon as possible, and individuals need to get out of the house.”
Richards confirmed that the DDCA executive will meet this week to look at the fixtures and how to face the challenges clubs may face in complying with some strict protocols to start training and playing.
“We’re giving the chance for clubs to re-affiliate,” he said.
“We’re going to have a separate Covid meeting this week, but obviously there’s a lot of stuff that clubs will need to do to be compliant with all the Covid stuff.
“We’ve given the clubs the opportunity to look at whether they can meet those guidelines that have been put in place when they play outside of their venue.”