By Nick Creely
Lock these dates into the calendar.
Cricket is back!
The Victorian Premier Cricket men’s competition will officially kick off on Saturday 28 November, with the Women’s competition to begin a week earlier, on Sunday 22 November.
After what has been a tough off-season for clubs and competitions alike across the state, Cricket Victoria confirmed on Thursday that its top club competition will now begin the process of training and preparation for what is going to be a highly anticipated, albeit much different looking season.
In the 2020/21 men’s season, there will be 17 one-day matches in the firsts and seconds played across the home and away season, including a match on Australia Day.
With several clubs impacted by a high number of players who live more than 25 kilometres from their home ground and some in Regional Victoria, extra time has been given for clubs to train together as groups before the season, as well as extra time for council and clubs to manage preparation of centre wickets and allow for any impacts due to the weather.
In the thirds and fourths, there will be no Australia Day clash, in part to avoid a clash with the Under 18 Female Premier matches being played on that day, and to reduce the workload of players taking part in the Under 16 Male matches on the following day.
This means that these two grades will play a 16-match one day season, with the played round one fixture removed.
The Women’s competition, which will start the weekend earlier, will be played across 14 rounds with finals in the first and second XI. In the newly developed third XI competition, there will be a 10-round season, with a longer break over the Christmas period and an earlier season finish.
Due to not having the option of playing Saturdays, moving the round one date later was not preferred, with a potential Australia Day clash not viable due to clashes with representative matches.
This means that the women will finish their finals series before the men and minimise the overall number of matches played in late March/early April, and therefore avoiding an Easter Sunday reserve day.
Cricket Victoria CEO Andrew Ingleton said that the announcement was a positive step forward in cricket getting underway this summer.
“It’s fantastic that we can now look forward to a Covid-Safe Premier Cricket season beginning later in November,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all our stakeholders who have worked so constructively with us in very challenging circumstances.
“I believe we’ve reached a fair outcome that will allow us to play as much cricket as possible while accommodating the obvious impacts arising from this year.”
Cricket Victoria competitions manager Darren Andrerson thanked clubs for their patience.
“The Premier Cricket already has, and will continue to require flexibility from all clubs and players as we navigate through a Covid-19 environment during the season,” he said.
“We will continue to work closely with stakeholders across the Victorian cricket community to ensure we reach the best solutions we possibly can in dynamic circumstances.”