ON Wednesday, March 18, the Committee of Management of the Leongatha and District Cricket Association made the difficult decision to cancel last weekend’s cricket grand finals.
And the teams placed highest on the ladder at the end of the home and away season, still in the running, were awarded the premiership in each grade.
It’s the same decision as if the weekend’s grand finals were washed out.
As a result, Leongatha Town won its first A Grade Division One premiership in 16 years over a desperately unlucky Nerrena who won an heroic semi-final over OMK the week before.
LDCA Secretary Gary Adams explained why it was the only course open to the association after a directive from Cricket Australia.
“We know many people in our South Gippsland cricket community will be disappointed with this decision, but we made it after consulting government and expert medical advice from Cricket Australia’s Chief Medical Officer,” Mr Adams said.
“A Cricket Australia directive advised they expected local community cricket to take a
leadership position and cancel all cricket playing and training activity for the remainder of the 2019/20 season in response to this unprecedented global health issue.
“As all communities, organisations and institutions around the world rally to slow the spread of the coronavirus, so must Australian cricket.
“The LDCA is part of our local community and although our number one priority is to the local cricket community that we lead and serve, there is also all the families of South Gippsland to consider. The committee hope that by taking these actions now we can play a small part in ‘flattening the curve’ and stemming the spread of the virus throughout South Gippsland.
Association President John Schelling expressed the LDCA’s viewpoint:
“As president of the LDCA I sincerely apologise to the clubs and participants scheduled to play in this weekend’s grand final, to miss out on the opportunity due to the unprecedented issues we currently face as a community will never be forgotten.
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“It was a gut-wrenching decision made by the COM members to cancel the Grand Finals but one that was made with all available up to date medical information and followed strong leadership from our governing body.
“It was the COM’s obligation to put the health of our wider South Gippsland population ahead of our sport and with players and supporters travelling from outside our area to be involved, and an ageing umpire group, it became the most obvious and sensible solution to protect those most vulnerable to the coronavirus issue.”
The following teams were declared the premiers under the LDCA’s normal cricket traditions and rules. No player medallions were presented by the association (although clubs are striking individual medals) and the official records will show the two teams who would have played off in the grand finals.
• A Grade Division 1 Town (3rd) v Nerrena (4th) – Town A1 premiers.
• A Grade Division 2 Imperials (1st) v Koonwarra LRSL (2nd) – A2 premiers Imperials.
• B Grade Division 1 Phillip Island (2nd) v Club (4th) – B1 premiers Phillip Island.
• B Grade Division 2 Korumburra (1st) v Kilcunda Bass (2nd) – B2 premiers Korumburra.
• C Grade Division 1 Phillip Island (1st) v Club (3rd) – C1 premiers Phillip Island.
• C Grade Division 2 Club (1st) v Town (2nd) – C2 premiers Club.
Leongatha Town’s players got together for a team photo and celebration last Saturday where president Steve Fixter welcomed the announcement.
“As a club we accepted the decision for what it was and felt we deserved the win. We beat the top three teams in the final few weeks of the season; OMK in Round 13, Nerrena in Round 14 and Club in the semi-final.
“We only lost two games for the season, the two 20-20 matches on either side of Christmas, and we were a bit unlucky not to finish off a couple of wash-out games.
“It was always going to be hard to get over Club in the semi-final. They have a habit of winning those sorts of games and when they were 0/86 chasing 150-odd it didn’t look good for us.
“But when you get one wicket, others start to come and when we got the two Thomas boys out for ducks, it really started to turn around for us.
“But it is what it is, very strange times, and we’re just happy as a club to have come through. We really considered ourselves the best team of the year and that’s how it has turned out.
“As a club we got together and said a few words. Matt (Davies) the captain said how proud he was of everyone. It’s our first A Grade premiership in 16 years.
“I’m particularly pleased for Amila who came to us eight or nine years ago now and has consistently been the best player in the comp since then. It’s good for him to have a bit of success finally.
“The way he has worked with the Sri Lankan boys has been exceptional and it was good to see him get reward for what he has done for our club.
“Sahan has had a fantastic year again of course and we congratulate him for his award.
“But it takes a huge effort right across the club and everyone shares in this success,” he said.
Town awarded 2020 premiership