THE Alberton Cricket Association assures it will be business as usual in season 2019-20, following some uncertainty from those outside the area surrounding the future of the unique four-team one-division competition.
With speculation the ACA would wind up, secretary Gavin Watt has squashed rumours, saying there was “no possibility of Alberton disbanding” and that “teams are happy to play in a four-team comp”.
“If people think we’re going to be moving or joining another league, I can’t see that happening at all,” he said.
With no second or third grade, official umpires, turf wickets or two-day matches, cricket in the Alberton region differs strikingly from how the game is played in other parts of Gippsland, with the association comprising of Devon, Devon North, Binginwarri and Tarraville, who play each other three times a season in 40 and 20-over games which go unrecorded on national cricket database website MyCricket.
“It’s not a perfect situation with four teams, but the teams that are playing are happy with the format at the moment in the sense that at least we are playing a game of cricket,” Watt said.
“Most of the players are just footballers filling in between seasons, so they just want to have a hit and giggle, play with their mates, finish by five o’clock and go to the beach or do whatever and that’s the attitude they’ve got.”
Watt was optimistic about the fortunes of a couple of Alberton clubs currently in recess, saying the league was “working really hard to get some more teams back”.
Toora and Yarram Colts have traditionally been in the ACA, while the appointment of a new cricket-loving teacher at Woodside Primary School may see the sport grow enough legs for the Woodside Blues to make a comeback after four years in the wilderness.
Gippsland Cricket, the governing body of cricket in the region, did not have a representative from Alberton serve on its board this season, while the association has not fielded a senior Gippsland Cricket League team since 2012-13, or a Junior Country Week team since 2015.
Gippsland Cricket president George Munro said the situation in Alberton had been on its radar for some time, with plans in place to meet with league officials.
“The fact that they’ve only got the four sides now, we just want them to tell us how they think things are going and if there is anything we can do to support them or help them in any way,” Munro said.
“We will leave it up to them to determine their own fate, but I think it would be pretty silly of me and the board not to take notice of what’s going on in Alberton.”
Munro said his team may be able to offer some administrative relief, but ensured “any recommendations made will be made in conjunction with Alberton”.
“It has to be their decision, we aren’t going to force them into anything, we’re not going down there to say ‘if you want to stay in region seven (Gippsland) you have to do this, this and this or you’re out’,” he said.
Munro pointed to the need to address dwindling player numbers in the area, and possible ways to rectify the matter as something both the region and Alberton would need to look at.
“Right now, if you’ve got four teams and you’ve got 11 players you’ve only got 44 cricketers on your books, so we’ve got to do our upmost to try and get some junior presence over there, because if you get juniors, you get seniors,” he said.
“The best way to try and determine what needs to happen is to sit down in front of one another and have an open discussion.”