Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Benalla and Wangaratta a step closer to merger

Benalla District Cricket Association has disbanded its junior competition as works towards merging with the Wangaratta association.

OLIVER CAFFREY September 4, 2014 3:05am

Benalla District Cricket Association has overcome its first hurdle towards a potential merger with Wangaratta District Cricket Association.

Benalla District’s junior competition has been disbanded with three clubs entering the Wangaratta underage league for next season.

St Joseph’s, Warrenbayne and Mansfield juniors were accepted into Wangaratta’s junior under-14 and under-16 competitions at a meeting last week.

Benalla president Trevor Saker said it was a long process to sort out the junior structure, but believed it would be the beginning of productive talks towards an official merger.

‘‘Now we’ve got this out of the way, the Benalla District clubs have given us a mandate to go and discuss the merger with them (Wangaratta) in senior cricket,’’ Saker said.

‘‘We’ll forward them (Wangaratta) a letter in the next month to begin negotiations and hopefully we’ll have it nutted out before the end of the cricket season to have it all sorted out before the 2015-16 season.

‘‘This season could, in all likelihood, be the last that clubs play under the banner of Benalla District Cricket Association.’’

A Cricket Victoria review into the North East region that was presented in June recommended a merger between Benalla and Wangaratta.

After the loss of powerhouse club Euroa to Cricket Shepparton last year, the competing clubs in Benalla District’s A-grade competition dropped to five.

Premier Warrenbayne, Delatite, Violet Town, St Joseph’s and Benalla will again field teams in the Cleary Shield this upcoming season.

All Benalla two-day cricket was dropped last season in favour of a mixture of Twenty20 and one-day matches in the hope of attracting more players to the association.

However, two-day cricket has been reinstated for this season to be played 75 overs a side, while Twenty20 and one-day matches will also make up the Cleary Shield.

The Benalla District season will begin on October 18, with finals to be played during the last two weekends of March.

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