WITH just four sleeps before the start of the 2013-14 Orange District Cricket Association season, this summer’s action both on and off the field is shaping up as a crucial one for the game in the city.
The ODCA last year played its first grade competition with five teams.
And until mid-week last week, five was again set to be the magic number in 2013-14.
Orange City would have to defend their premiership against regulars CYMS, Cavaliers and Orange City, with Waratahs re-entering the first grade fold to coincide with Kinross dropping back a grade.
The students initially feared a younger roster this year would result in heavy defeats, a far from ideal scenario for the ODCA or the school.
But a change of heart has both given Kinross the belief they’re at least capable of competing and the ODCA a six-team first grade format - for at least the first five weeks of the summer anyway.
At the end of the five week term - over the course of which a limited overs cup will be contested - Kinross can then determine whether or not to stick with first grade cricket.
I get the feeling they’ll stick around.
On top of that, they’ll probably win games too.
The cricket in Orange is not as strong as it used to be nor as strong as Kinross probably thought it was when initially making its original judgement at nominations.
CYMS will be depleted while Waratahs will be feeling their way into their return to the top.
Centrals only won two games last year and Cavaliers dipped a little on what we’ve come to expect from Cavs, a side that previously won eight straight Bathurst Orange Inter-District Cricket and ODCA titles.
Without a ball being bowled, Orange City is the only side that has gotten noticeably better with the inclusion of former Western Zone quick Jackson Coote.
If the students do remain in the top flight, it’ll be a good thing for the ODCA in general.
The bye benefit in a five-team competition that generally draws a lot of its players from shift work is not a bad thing, that is of course if the bye falls on a week where your club’s players are all at work.
If that’s the case the week off is a blessing.
But, for the good of Orange cricket and the competitiveness of our city’s representative side, a six-team competition is a must.
First grade needs to be playing competitive cricket week in, week out to ensure the top players are spending time out in the middle.
And with the rep team coming off two wins in its last 14 starts, the more cricket those involved play at a local level the better.
More weeks off is a scenario no one wants.