By Colin MacGillivray
SEYMOUR District Cricket Association teams are raring to play their first games of the 2021-22 season this weekend after a COVID-induced delay to the start of play.
The opening round SDCA season was pushed back as Victorians waited to for vaccinations to reach State Government-mandated levels.
Lockdown restrictions ended in Mitchell Shire last month and sports will recommence this weekend after Victoria surpassed an 80 per cent double vaccination level.
SDCA president Ben Trezise said the association was thrilled to be back.
“We’ve been sitting on our hands for so long just waiting to start,” he said.
“We potentially could have started last weekend, but it was always Cricket Victoria’s preference that we start it this weekend just because of vaccinations.
“It seems to have been forever. It was just waiting and waiting, first for Mitchell Shire to come out of lockdown so all the teams could start training again, and then waiting for the start date.”
Mr Trezise said the association would abide by Cricket Victoria’s return-to-play guidelines.
According to the current guidelines, all spectators, players and officials must check in on arrival to a ground, and spectators and scorers must maintain 1.5-metre distancing at all times.
Only players should touch the match ball, which will be cleaned with an antibacterial wipe every 20 overs. No saliva can be used to shine the ball, although sweat from the arms or back is allowed.
Personal equipment such as pads or gloves is discouraged from being shared and no communal food or drinks can be provided by clubs, with players required to bring their own.
Mr Trezise said he was sure the guidelines would be updated throughout the season in line with government health advice.
“Cricket Victoria have said at this stage unvaccinated people are still allowed to play cricket because it’s an outdoor sport, but they cannot use the change rooms or go into clubrooms,” he said.
“That might change once we get above 90 per cent.”
On field, the A Grade competition will return to six teams, after Alexandra and Pyalong dropped back to B Grade.
The remaining A Grade teams are 2020-21 premier Yea Tigers, runner-up Kilmore, Broadford, Tallarook, Seymour and Eastern Hill.
Mr Trezise said it would result in a smaller, but more competitive A Grade tournament.
“Alexandra and Pyalong stood up last year and had a crack at A Grade, but due to people leaving and numbers, they feel that B Grade is a better fit for them,” he said.
“I think any team can make the finals and once they make the finals, any team can win it. It will be nice and open this year, which will be good.”
This season’s truncated fixture means that, as with the 2020-21 season, only one-day matches will be played.
“We would have loved to be able to do the two-dayers this year, but on the recommendation of Cricket Victoria I think every association is only doing one-dayers this season,” Mr Trezise said.
The season will commence on Saturday with Broadford hosting Tallarook at Harley Hammond Reserve, Eastern Hill playing host to Yea Tigers at Kings Park, and Seymour travelling to play Kilmore.
Kilmore captain Josh Buttler said the club would field largely the same A Grade side, making up for the departures of Matt Rose and Hayden Smith with the inclusions of former Wallan batsman Ryan Cumberland and pace bowler Mitch Van De Duim.
“I think we’ll have a very strong side again this year, possibly even a little bit stronger than last year. Hopefully we go one better – we should be thereabouts again,” Buttler said.
Mr Trezise said the league was now simply hoping for good weather.
“I don’t know if the season had started on time that we’d have actually played a game yet to be quite honest with the weather being the way it has been,” he said.
“But hopefully now all the games can go ahead and we’re looking forward to it.”
The SDCA is searching for a secretary and a junior development officer to organise junior country week matches. People interested in either role can contact Mr Trezise on 0432 789 100.