THE Orange District Cricket Association will implement a four-team finals format running over two weeks in March next year.
The change from the three-team system used whilst the ODCA’s first grade competition was contested by five teams has always been in the works, but timing and a jam-packed schedule has meant the move was only officially announced at a general meeting on Tuesday night.
The new system will see the ODCA first grade minor premiers take on the fourth-placed side in week one while second and third also play-off in the first post-season week of the summer.
Ensuring this season’s cricket premier is decided via a cut throat format, the winners of both games progress straight through to the grand final.
The two losers are eliminated.
ODCA president Mark Frecklington admitted there was some hesitation in accepting a format that doesn’t reward the top two teams from the regular season, but the four-team system will stay.
“There is always that concern but we don’t have the scope to change the length of the season too greatly,” Frecklington said.
“Ideally we’d love to have a three-week finals series but we can’t change dates this late in the season.”
The 2013-14 grand final, for all grades, is scheduled to be played on the weekend beginning Saturday, March 29.
The competition can’t be extended a week due to “potential problems with other sports.”
“And we wanted all of our grand finals on the same day,” Frecklington added.
A three-week top four semi-final series would see first play second and third play fourth in week one.
The winner of the first versus second game, the major semi-final, would progress straight through to the decider while the loser would take on the victor of the minor semi-final, the third versus fourth clash, in the following week’s preliminary final.
The loser of the third versus fourth game is eliminated.
The biggest benefit of a three-week top four system is the second bite of the cherry it affords the teams that finish the regular season with the two best records.
“The intention has always been to have a four-team finals system with a six-team first grade competition,” Frecklington added, with CYMS (69), Cavaliers (57), Orange City (57), Kinross (33), Centrals (27) and Waratahs (27) the make up of this year’s ladder through nine rounds.
“But I guess that sort of got lost a bit with the chopping and changing. With four teams now it gives a couple of those sides on the fringe something to play for.”