Waratahs Cricket Club’s existence is on the brink beyond the 2018-19 season after the club pulled out of the second-grade competition just a few months after folding the junior club
President Scott McLean informed the Orange District Cricket Association on Wednesday that the club would be unable to field a second-grade side after player numbers had dwindled over previous seasons.
“I fear for the future of Waratahs,” McLean said.
McLean said Waratahs had lost three-quarters of last year’s second-grade side to other clubs, unavailability and retirements, and called for “greater collaboration” between clubs on player movements to ensure they all survive.
It’s just a perfect storm.Waratahs president Scott McLean
“We’re disappointed, let down, at the start of the year we were hoping to field a first-grade side but got zero inquiry,” he said.
He said a month into the ODCA season the club was “scraping” together sides, with the second-grade side and third-grade side both forfeiting a game each after most of their talented players moved across to other clubs.
Kaleb Cook, Ryan Noon, Harry Pearce, Lachie Griffith and Joe Kay are some of the former talented Waratahs juniors now playing for other clubs, but McLean didn't want to blame any of them for the club’s downfall.
“I don’t want to attack other clubs, but our most talented junior got 30 text messages after a game two weeks ago and has moved clubs,” he said.
“The facilities at Perry Oval are terrible in terms of fielding and practice … it’s caused us to lose a lot of players.
“It’s just a perfect storm.”
McLean stressed he didn’t want to lash out at other clubs or whinge about the state Tahs were in – and also said the ODCA had been “very supportive” – but said danger had been on the horizon for the club for some time.
“We said a few years ago that if other clubs kept poaching our juniors we wouldn’t be here in a few years,” he said.
He said the focus was now switching to the third grade side and doing all they could to win the premiership there, hoping that might generate some interest around the club for next season.
ODCA president Mark Frecklington said it was unfortunate to see the club in a difficult position, but wasn’t surprised by the news.
“I guess they’re not in a good place with player numbers and the future doesn’t look overly good,” he said.
Frecklington said there wasn’t too much to ODCA could do – while it could encourage players to play for one club or another, it couldn't do much to help clubs from losing players.
“We’re limited in what we can do to help,” he said.
The ODCA has replaced Waratahs’ games with byes in the second-grade competition, but considering Tahs had won a game and lost a game, Frecklington said a decision was yet to be made if those results would be wiped or kept for the remainder of the season.
He said the ODCA would do what it could to support the club and would certainly like to see Waratahs back in second-grade next season, but wasn’t optimistic about their prospects considering the club’s lack of juniors.
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