By Sam Watson
THE inclusion of Nyora isn’t the only shake-up happening in the Leongatha and District Cricket Association for the 2021/22 season.
To make most divisions have eight sides, the league has decided to move multiple teams into higher divisions.
For example, OMK and Wonthaggi Club’s B1 sides will move into A2, making it an eight-team division with Nyora’s inclusion.
The Leongatha Imperials won the B2 premiership so they’re now in B1, but fellow grand finalist MDU will also move there.
Korumburra finished on the bottom of B1, but they will remain there, leaving the C1 teams of OMK, Wonthaggi Club and Phillip Island to fill the void in B2.
Wonthaggi and OMK’s C2 sides will also come up into C1, leaving both C Grade divisions with seven sides.
With Wonthaggi and OMK’s dominance in B Grade and C Grade in recent years, many won’t be surprised if they’re a serious contender in the higher grades.
LDCA president John Schelling said the main motivation behind the move was getting the A Graders a more even competition.
“The A2 competition last year was played with five teams which was pretty ordinary. Even though it gave teams like Foster a chance to make finals after only winning one game, it wasn’t sustainable. It also wasn’t sustainable to play the A2 sides in A1, so we just wanted to give them a better standard of cricket to play.”
Schelling said he was surprised by the positive responses from most clubs.
He said the fact the teams can drop back after one year made it much easier to swallow.
“If they’re not happy after one year, they can go back and someone else will have a crack. If they’re happy up there and they’re successful, they can stay up.”
OMK president Russ White said although it may be difficult for his club, the new layout was for the betterment of the league.
“If it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done,” White said.
“It’s not ideal but something needed to be changed, so we had to have a go.”
He said the option to come back a division after one season made his players look more favourably on the decision.
“If it had’ve been permanent it would’ve been a bit different.”
Club president Mark Dobbie also believed it had to be done to improve the competition.
“It’s got to help, doing away with a bye in the higher grades and putting extra teams into the divisions definitely helps,” Dobbie said.
He said he wanted to do whatever made more people want to play cricket.
“It becomes a cricket issue, if you don’t get players, you don’t play cricket and the league folds.”
“You’ve got to just keep moving along for the betterment of the cricket.”
Dobbie also said the option to go back after one season made it easier, but he believed most of his sides will be competitive in their new divisions.
Dobbie and White both agreed their C2 Grades may struggle in C1, but Dobbie was hopeful the step up would be a good learning curve for the club’s youngsters.
“If we can keep the majority of our young kids together, you might not win as many games, but they’ll be playing a better standard,” Dobbie said.
Koonwarra L/RSL president John Manicaro said he and his club were pleased with the decision.
“The league has taken on what the clubs had to say, and they’ve come up with a really good structure.”
“It’s going to be a good season.”
Glen Alvie president Joe Hales also believed it was the best thing for the league: “It’s a good option to give them the provision where they can be there for just one season.”