By Nick Creely
It’s been one long wait.
But finally, that familiar – yet iconic – summer sound of a cricket ball pinging off the willow is back.
With the recent announcement by the Victorian State Government confirming that the 25-kilometre rule and ‘Ring of Steel’ around metropolitan Melbourne has been removed, metro cricket competitions around the traps are now steadily preparing for a season like no other.
And in the south east and Gippsland regions, there is plenty of cricket set to be enjoyed for spectators over the coming weeks.
Most notably, the West Gippsland Cricket Association (WGCA) season officially starts this Saturday with the local community set to flock to grounds to get a glimpse at community sport for the first time in almost nine months.
There’s plenty of games of significant interest in the Premier division to start the season, with a clash between bitter rivals Cardinia and reigning premier Kooweerup a genuine blockbuster to begin 2020/21.
Upper Beaconsfield, which has returned to the top-flight of the WGCA once again, has a big challenge ahead when it hosts Pakenham.
Tooradin will also take on Clyde, while Cranbourne Meadows and Merinda Park will do battle at Donnelly Reserve.
After a highly-successful Covid Cup in the lead-in to the regular season, the Warragul and District Cricket Association (WDCA) will officially kick off this Saturday after restrictions between Melbourne and regional Victoria were lifted earlier this week.
It’s set to be a highly-contested Division 1 season once again, with Western Park undoubtedly going to go in as competition favourites after a stunning Covid Cup performance.
Round 1 this Saturday will see Buln Buln and Hallora go toe-to-toe, Western Park will travel to take on Neerim District, and Yarragon plays host to Ellinbank, while Warragul is at home against Drouin.
The Mornington Peninsula Cricket Association (MPCA) – which, like the WGCA, will be played purely as a one-day season – also kicks off this weekend, with local outfit Pearcedale looking to bounce back from a tough few seasons.
The Panthers were relegated from the Peninsula Division last season and will now enter District under captain-coach Shayne Gillings, and will kick off its season against Hastings at Thomas Barclay Oval.
But the club has been significantly bolstered by the return of quick Sam Frawley and batsmen Nathan Prosser, Brad Trotter, Luke Jennings and Billy Kennedy, as well as the recruitment of Shaun Donnelly from Kooweerup, all-rounder Nick Marshall from Somerville, and Luke Adams from Tooradin.
But the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association (VSDCA) season, with local clubs Noble Park and Endeavour Hills, kicks off on Saturday, 21 November, alongside fellow Turf competition the Dandenong District Cricket Association (DDCA).
The Victorian Premier Cricket Men’s season starts on Saturday, 28 November, with the women’s Premier Cricket season to begin on Sunday, 22 November.
Pick up a copy of next week’s Pakenham-Berwick Gazette for the full season previews for the DDCA Turf 1, Turf 2 and Turf 3 grades, as well as Premier Cricket clubs Dandenong and Casey-South Melbourne.