By Sam Watson
WITH the weather warming up and local grounds beginning to dry out, it’s time to have a look at the five most exciting aspects of the upcoming Leongatha and District Cricket Association season.
1. Nyora the newcomers
THE LEONGATHA and District Cricket Association will include the Nyora Cricket Club in the 2021/22 season.
The newcomers decided to come across from West Gippsland Cricket Association, where they were being forced to compete with booming suburbs of Melbourne, such as Pakenham, Officer, Cranbourne Meadows.
So, president Adam Mantel orchestrated the move to the LDCA, and it was received with full praise from other clubs.
They will be entering an A2 and a B2 side into the league and will also fill an under 12s side and maybe also an all-girls side.
It’ll be fascinating to see how they stack up compared to the rest of the league and whether they can be premiership contenders in their first year.
It will also be interesting to see how clubs can adjust to playing on the unfamiliar ground at Nyora.
2. New division structure implications
THE A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 divisions will look a bit different in 2021/22.
For the first time ever, some clubs will feature in both A1 and A2, and in B1 and B2.
This will make every division an eight-team competition, except for C1 and C2, which will have seven sides each.
OMK and Wonthaggi’s B1 sides will move into A2, and Nyora’s inclusion will make it an eight-team competition.
B2 premiers, the Leongatha Imperials will move into B1, as will the runners-up MDU, leaving the C1 teams of OMK, Wonthaggi and Phillip Island to fill the void in B2.
And Wonthaggi and OMK’s C2 teams will move into C1, leaving seven sides in each C Grade division.
It’ll be extremely interesting to see how the respective sides adjust to the higher levels of competition, especially the B1 sides coming into A2.
Many believe the original B1 sides, Wonthaggi and OMK, will be big chances to win the flag in A2, but the A2 teams will be desperate to stamp their authority on their division.
The new divisions should make for the most even season across the board in quite some time.
3. Mock’s move to Phillip Island
PHILLIP Island pulled off the biggest recruiting coup of the offseason this year, landing star OMK batsman and captain Daniel Mock fresh off an A1 premiership with the Diggers.
To add to the huge shock, following Mock is gun all-rounder Tom Keily and near 5000-run wicket keeper batsman Adam Miller.
Phillip Island’s A Grade side finished fourth in the 2020/21 season, losing to Leongatha Town in the semi-final, but they will now be red hot favourites to win it all this year.
It’ll be exciting to see how the side gels together and see if they can live up to their lofty expectations after adding the star power to their already handy line-up.
The first game between OMK and Phillip Island should be pretty good viewing as well.
4. How will Wonthaggi Club bounce back
LDCA juggernaut Wonthaggi Club missed finals in A Grade for the first time in over 15 years last year, finishing in sixth, winning four games, and losing eight.
The club might not overtly express it, but they expect success in all their grades, especially their A Grade side so they’ll be desperate to bounce back in the 2021/22 season.
Luckily for them they have some quality youngsters coming through, and the depth in their now A2 team will provide should hold them in very good stead.
Don’t be surprised if their back competing for the flag again this year.
5. Return of two-day cricket
FINALLY, two-day cricket looks like it will be back in the 2021/22 season.
Every game was a one-day match last season, with the state government recommending to Cricket Victoria that would be the best way to be COVID-safe.
Many will love the return of two-day cricket, with more emphasis being put on spending time at the crease, rather than making quick runs.
The combination of two-day, one-day and T20 cricket should make for a more even playing field, with all sorts of players getting their opportunities to thrive.