ACA reveal A-grade will return to seven-side competition

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

The Albany Cricket Association will return to a seven-team A-grade competition this season after accepting nominations from last year’s B-grade premiers Mt Barker and traditional club Royals.

Seven teams competed in A-grade back in the 2014-15 season when Grammar Griffins joined the competition, but their stint at the top level lasted only one season.

Last season the A-grade competition was reduced to just five teams for the first time in 14 years when the Lions, who finished last in 2015-16, elected only to field a side in B-grade.

However the return of the Lions and an emerging Bulls side that has won two of the past three B-grade titles has strengthened the top-tier competition.

The Bulls are expected to be a strong force in their maiden season given hometown batsman and Country XI representative Jeremy Wood has joined them after winning a premiership with Railways last season.

The Lions will field a relatively young side in A-grade this season and are confident of securing an overseas player to add much-needed senior depth to their club.

After previously having their own competition and being a force in country cricket decades ago, the Bulls joined the ACA in 2013-14 after leaving the amalgamated Great Southern Cricket Association.

ACA president Terry Eaton was delighted to have the Bulls join the A-grade ranks for the first time.

“It’s great we’ve got Mt Barker back on their feet,” Eaton said.

“Having them back in the competition has been an overwhelming success after they were really on their knees, so well done to all those involved and hopefully there is even more growth up there.

“Seven teams is a positive and we hope Royals can continue to grow as well.”

Eaton said the association was also delighted to be returning to its traditional home where it will use three turf wickets, with A-grade games not played on turf for the past two seasons.

In other new developments, the ACA has adopted a separated B-grade and C-grade competition from the outset of the new season rather than all sides competing in one division before being spilt after playing each other once.

The Griffins, who last year played in the B-grade competition, have not entered a team in any of the three grades this season.

Other changes to the upcoming season will include the reintroduction of a Twenty20 competition in all grades, expected to be played in December.

The start date for the new season is likely to be Saturday, October 21, with the new turf wickets also set to be used for the first time.

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