STAWELL - Former Australian greats will be among a host of cricket legends to play in Stawell as part of the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) Masters Tour next month.
The players will take on a representative team from the Grampians Cricket Association in an action packed Twenty20 game on the night of Friday, October 25 at Central Park as well as take part in a range of other activities.
The tour is supported by the Northern Grampians Shire Council.
While the touring party is yet to be confirmed, regular participating players include Terry Alderman, Andy Bichel, Greg Blewett, Matthew Elliott, Brad Hogg, Rodney Hogg, Michael Kasprowicz, Darren Lehmann, Mick Lewis, Jimmy Maher, Greg Matthews and Tom Moody.
Cr Murray Emerson said the three-day event would also include in2Cricket coaching clinics for primary school children and a sportsman's function to raise money for Stawell Regional Health.
"This is going to be a fabulous few days for the community of Stawell and the region," he said.
"We are lucky to have some fantastic facilities at Central Park and we are looking forward to hosting some past legends of the game.
"The entire community has an opportunity to get involved in this great event and we are expecting big crowds."
Cr Emerson said the visit would also raise the profile of grass roots cricket, with a selected junior player set to be presented with a $1,000 scholarship.
"Some talented young local cricketers will be taking part in the Twenty20 match and their performances will be assessed by the ACA Masters' players.
"The top performer will receive a scholarship at the conclusion of the match," he said.
"This is a fantastic way to recognise some of our best junior players and reward them for their efforts."
A working group consisting of representatives from Northern Grampians Shire Council, Grampians Crickets Association and local cricket clubs has been established to oversee the event.
President of Grampians Cricket Association, Anthony Martin said it has been two years in the making and was thrilled with the official announcement, made last Thursday .
Mr Martin acknowledged the event was very important for Grampians cricket.
"Hopefully, it lifts the profile of the sport in the area and not just the Grampians," he said.
"It's also a chance to do a bit of PR (public relations) work in the community."
In choosing the Grampians Cricket Association representative team, a criteria needs to be met.
The Association must have a minimum of two players between the ages of 15-18, and Mr Martin said he will include youth as well as a couple of experienced local players such as Travis Nicholson (Swifts/Great Western) and Jarred Blandford (Tatyoon).
Other names in the mix include Jackson Dark (Swifts/Great Western) who featured in the winning 2012/13 Victorian Bushrangers under 18 male state champion team, Jamie Bach (Swifts/Great Western) and former St Andrews player, Matt North.
Another issue that has dogged Grampians Cricket Association in the past is the state of the Central Park turf wicket.
In recent years, it has taken until after Christmas for cricketers to play on Central Park although Mr Martin has been assured that the venue will be ready by October 25.
"John Hunt (Central Park curator) says he will have the pitch ready to go," Mr Martin said.
The Masters program has been developed by the Australian Cricketers Association, the official representative body of past and present players, with a focus on the promotion of cricket.
ACA Chief Executive Paul Marsh said the program helps local cricket associations to raise funds and identify local talent.
"Our tours have proved to be a real hit with communities in the sporting areas we have visited to date," he said.