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Cricket Shepparton pleas for players

Cricket Shepparton's Melbourne Country Week team will be axed if the association can't get a few more players on board before Friday.

OLIVER CAFFREY January 15, 2014 4:05am

It is now or never for Cricket Shepparton’s Melbourne Country Week team.

The association needs at least three more players to commit by Friday to playing in the prestigious tournament, otherwise the team will be pulled from next month’s carnival.

The looming deadline comes after Cricket Shepparton was unable to send a side to Bendigo Country Week, which started on Monday, due to a lack of numbers.

Cricket Shepparton president David D’Elia said association representatives agreed at a meeting on Monday night to abandon this year’s Melbourne Country Week campaign if the team could not be filled by 5pm on Friday.

D’Elia said the association had a full side ready to go, but a number of committed players had since withdrawn.

‘‘We had a team ready to go, but unfortunately we’ve had a few guys pull out with job and work commitments at the last minute,’’ D’Elia said.

‘‘We’ve got eight (players) ready to go at the moment, but we need a bare minimum of 11 — we would obviously like to have 12 or 13.’’

D’Elia said it would be ‘‘embarrassing’’ if a team couldn’t be put together.

‘‘We’ve already entered a team, we’re in the draw ready to go, and if we can’t put a side together, being one of the bigger associations, would be a complete embarrassment,’’ he said.

‘‘If you’re keen and interested, don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder, have some pride in yourself and the association — if you want to play, come and see us.

‘‘It relates to every single person in the association — we might have guys knocking on the door in B-grade, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough to play Country Week.’’

While the situation is serious, senior representative cricket director James Stokes is still confident of sending a side to Melbourne.

‘‘We were going to call it quits at the meeting, but we went down the table, and decided to give it another crack, so hopefully we’ll have a squad up and going,’’ Stokes said.

The proud association has slipped to division four at the Melbourne carnival in recent years, with last season’s team failing to win a match in a competition that included far smaller leagues, including Central Gippsland and Warragul and District.

Former Cricket Shepparton player, and now Carlton cricketer, Ryan Sidebottom posted a passionate plea to players on Twitter on Monday night after learning of the team’s plight.

‘‘To all playing A grade in the @CricketShepp comp, show some support to the league by putting your name forward to represent the league at Melbourne Country Week,’’ Sidebottom said.

‘‘Get around it and embrace the league that’s supporting you every Saturday.’’

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