Weather hope for new era

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

The Albany Cricket Association hopes to avoid a traditional rain-interrupted start to the new season with the long-awaited return of turf cricket for the first time in two seasons this Saturday.

The ACA’s A-grade players have not played on turf wickets since the 2014-15 season and have spent the past two seasons playing on synthetic wickets while the western precinct of Centennial Park underwent a multimillion-dollar redevelopment.

No rain is forecast over the next two days, with maximum temperatures of 19C and 21C, with Saturday also expected to be fine.

Only two of the three new turf wickets are available to be prepared for round 1 pending inclement weather in the next two days.

ACA president Terry Eaton said he was keeping a firm eye on the weather in the hope a new era for Albany cricket would be ushered in without a false start.

“Fingers are crossed and hopefully we are there Saturday,” he said.

“It will be great to see all the coloured club shirts and whites running around down there with eight teams and four clubs.” For Albany’s cricketers, who have gone decades without the facilities of other towns and major regional centres, the long-awaited pavilion will finally give local players and the association an official home.

To go with the new pavilion, the association has also bought new scoreboards and was successful in gaining $6000 from the CBH Group Grass Roots Fund to buy new covers for the three new turf wickets.

“It’s been a marathon really with everything we have put in place,” Eaton said.

“Now we can unite cricket back at the new clubhouse.

“It’s a return back to normality and it’s very exciting for all the guys involved.”

The new ACA executive committee has implemented many changes to produce exciting competitions including permanent A, B and C-grades and the re-introduction of the Twenty20 competition in all grades.

The A-grade competition will return to bonus point one-day games, while B and C-grade competitions will use four-piece balls.

Eaton said it was also exciting Merrifield Real Estate had partnered with the ACA as the association’s official naming rights sponsor.

“Jeremy Stewart has a strong passion for cricket in Albany and we are thankful for Merrifield’s support to help drive this new era,” he said.

“These facilities certainly are what we have been waiting for for a long time and now they are ready we cannot wait to get onto the park.”

Round 1 of the new seven-team A-grade competition will see Mt Barker debut at home to Manypeaks at Sounness Park, while reigning premiers Railways tackle Collingwood Park at Turf North.

Fellow newly promoted team Royals return to A-grade against Denmark at Turf West.

The 45-over matches start at 12.15pm.

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