Kialla and Shepparton United cricket clubs are considering merging their A-grade teams this season.By Damen Francis
Cricket Shepparton clubs Kialla and Shepparton United are preparing a proposal to merge their A-grade teams for the upcoming Haisman Shield season.
The Knights finished in the top four and played finals last season, but have lost a host of players — including player-coach Scott Burton — while United won two matches for the season.
Cricket Shepparton president David D’Elia said the league executive was aware of the proposed move, but was yet to receive an official submission.
‘‘Informally it has been suggested to us it could occur, (but) we’ve had nothing official from either club,’’ D’Elia said.
‘‘There has been nothing into how it would occur or why it would occur.
‘‘When we receive something official we’ll look into what they want to do and see if it’s a reasonable proposition.’’
With the start of the season less than seven weeks away, D’Elia said any proposal would need to be submitted by September 2.
D’Elia said while lower grade teams had merged for a season in the past, he was unaware of such a situation in A-grade.
Shepparton United president Stephen Pinnuck declined to comment on the proposal, but newly appointed Kialla president Grant Rowe confirmed the clubs were discussing it.
He said the aim was not to dominate the competition, but help both clubs rebuild.
‘‘We (Kialla) were going to submit an A-grade side, but we thought it wasn’t going to be competitive and it wouldn’t be good for our club,’’ Rowe said.
‘‘We had plenty of numbers, just not the quality of the cattle.
‘‘We don’t think (a merged team) is going to be a super side .
Rowe said both clubs were adamant it was a one-year proposition and the concept was ‘‘more player driven than committee driven’’.
‘‘The players absolutely embraced it,’’ he said.
‘‘We both want to survive for another year and retain our identities and get the strength back and we’re working hard on junior development.
‘‘We don’t want to lose our players to cricket, we want to keep them playing as often as they like and at the level that suits their ability.’’
As well as Burton and opening batsman Dave Heddle moving to Melbourne for work, the future of young Knights players Joe Dwyer, BJ Squire and Mitch Younger is up in the air due to university and football commitments.
Rowe said the idea of merging A-grade sides with United was floated by Pinnuck at a meeting about combining an under-16s side, Monday week ago.
Rowe admitted other plans were needed to rebuild the strength of the club.
‘‘We’re the only club south of the river fielding an A-grade side, I can’t understand why we can’t get heaps of players,’’ he said.
‘‘We have to look at the culture of our club.’’
Any proposal would have to get the go-ahead from the Cricket Shepparton executive, but D’Elia was unable to confirm if it could allow such a move without putting it to the club presidents.
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