Official, confirmed, locked in - Bathurst-Orange Inter-District Cricket (BOIDC) is back.
Twelve years on from the competition's split following the 2006-07 season the combined competition will resume this summer, after Orange District Cricket Association's clubs followed Bathurst's lead and voted in favour of merging again.
Orange City, Cavaliers, Kinross, Centrals and CYMS all signalled their intention to nominate a side at Tuesday night's ordinary general meeting and they'll form a nine-team competition with Bathurst City, City Colts, St Pat's Old Boys and Rugby Union, who did the same last week.
We're full steam ahead, locked in, it's just the logistics that need to be sorted out and confirmed now.Orange and Mitchell president Mark Frecklington
There was some suggestion it may not be feasible for Kinross to do so considering the impact school holidays sometimes has on their player numbers but ODCA president Mark Frecklington said it was quite the opposite, the students encouragingly supporting the move.
"Kinross voted in favour and so have the other five Orange clubs so we're full steam ahead, locked in, it's just the logistics that need to be sorted out and confirmed now," Frecklington enthused.
"We sent out a survey to our clubs earlier this year to gauge their interest and they went back to the players following that, before Tuesday's meeting, and it was expected based on the discussions that all the clubs would vote this way.
"It's exciting times. From an Orange perspective it's something we've wanted, well, since the initial split really so it's great."
Frecklington is also Mitchell Cricket Council's president and from that governing body's perspective the merger is just as promising, if not more so.
"Definitely, it's a real positive for cricket in general I think and when you look at it, it's basically a whole new generation of cricketers, there's not many who played in the BOIDC before that are left, so it's good to see these guys get that opportunity," Frecklington said.
"There's associations all over the state combining and it will definitely create a higher standard of cricket which will flow on and have a positive impact on both associations' representative sides too I think."
While the nine-team competition obviously leaves a bye each week Frecklington said that's no issue for any of the clubs. Both associations had five-team competitions in 2018-19, and the amount of byes will be reduced naturally with more sides.
"I'm not sure where we'd get a 10th team from anyway, even if we wanted to find one," he said.
"I think everyone's happy to run with the bye and with more cricket being played against a bigger variety of teams, with some travel too, the bye might actually be a good thing coming from time-to-time.
He confirmed the competition will run with a mixture of one and two-day cricket however that is one of those logistical things that will need to be determined, along with factors like travel for each club and, of course, the draw itself.
"We'll sit down with Bathurst, hopefully next week, and begin all those discussions," Frecklington said.
The merger applies only to the top grade, with each associations' respective lower grade competitions to be contested as per usual.
He confirmed there will be no changes to ODCA's Royal Hotel Cup, the Western Zone's marquee Twenty20 tournament.
With three Bathurst sides and the Lithgow Lightning competing in recent years the Royal Hotel Cup has been considered a Mitchell-wide tournament for some time anyway and Frecklington said he expects sides from outside Orange to once again nominate.
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