Cricket returns 

GCA - Now that the football season is over, all eyes turn to the upcoming Grampians Cricket Association season for 2012/13.

Draws for A, B and C grades were released last week and GCA president Anthony Martin said this year the Association is in a better position that it was the same time last year.

However, the downside is a couple of clubs are struggling with numbers which resulted in B grade being reduced from eight to seven sides.

The B grade competition welcomes Youth Club and Tatyoon to its ranks and says goodbye to Aradale, Wickliffe/Lake Bolac and Willaura.

"All teams are the same, except the ones down the southern end," Mr Martin said.

"Wickliffe/Lake Bolac and Willuara are struggling in numbers and requested a drop in grade. It's a little bit of a worry."

Wickliffe/Lake Bolac have held a number of emergency meetings to increase player numbers.

"They have said yes with their fingers crossed. The executive felt if they drop out, it's better for them to be down the bottom in C grade," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said the general feeling by the teams is that it is easier to a find a new team each week instead of finding the same team to play two weeks in a row.

"Everyone is a bit keen to play a one-day fixture," he said.

"We had a few hassles getting the draw together. We had the premiers and runners up (move up), it has always been one up and two down. In an ideal world, this would continue, but this time it was three down, two up. We'll see how it runs and look for another solution next year."

A grade will continue as is with eights teams and there will be 10 C grade sides instead of nine.

Like last year, Mr Martin expects there will be team forfeits due to events such as the Dunkeld and Avoca races but clubs have the option of playing on the Sunday.

"If both teams can agree to changing to Sunday, clubs always have the option. The executive can try and nurse them through it (the process) but if they can't agree, they've got to go by the draw."

Another problem facing GCA over 2011/12 was the replacement of the more senior players with those stepping up from under 16s.

"There was one instance where St Andrews were playing on a code red day, fielding under 16 players who had to play for three hours in the morning and then were expected to play five hours in the afternoon. By this stage, they lose their enthusiasm," Mr Martin said.

These are some of the issues covered in the GCA 2012/13 survey handed out to the clubs in order to gather feedback that will hopefully benefit the competition.

There is also a player survey that will be posted on the MyCricket website that players, or even parents of young players, can fill out.

"It's all part of trying to improve the competition. This year we feel some of our assets aren't being fully utilised," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said while the oval position is not as stressed as last year, where they struggled to find available grounds, he would like to see more C grade games played at Alexandra Oval and Central Park.

"C grade would get a bit of a kick of going to Alexandra Oval and Central Park," he said.

This year, Grampians Cricket Association is well-structured, with people doing specific jobs.

Mr Martin praised office bearer Rhonda North, who is now in her second year in an official role.

Scotney Hayter has been appointed in charge of the MyCricket website and teams have been warned that if they don't hand in score sheets by Monday, they will lose points.

Last year, score sheets were not filled in on time resulting in headaches for everyone involved including this publication.

"We can't have what happened last year. That was nowhere near good enough," Mr Martin declared.

The season starts on October 13.

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