Changes aplenty in rebranding of club competition

It still counts as six if you hit the ball over the rope on the full. You cannot be given out lbw if the ball pitches outside leg. And you still need to take 10 wickets to bowl a side out.

But much else has changed in Dunedin club cricket.

The competition is under new management. There has been a rebranding. There is no need for a bye any more and a one-day final has been introduced.

The club season draw will be released next Wednesday, but Otago Cricket Association (OCA) general manager of community cricket Andrew Petrie confirmed the season will get under way on October 31 and revealed a few other details.

The start date is four weeks later than usual and we have Covid-19 to thank for that.

The winter sport season was extended which meant cricket was forced into a delay.

The premier grade will get under way with a full round of one-day cricket.

That will be followed by three double rounds of twenty20 cricket before the Christmas break.

The season will resume on January 9. Two more double rounds of twenty20 cricket have been planned and the twenty20 final will be played at the University of Otago Oval on January 17.

It will feature a curtainraiser between two third-grade sides and represents a rare chance for club cricketers to play on an international venue.

The third-grade teams will be selected randomly.

The one-day competition resumes the following weekend and will run through until February 13.

There will be a double-header weekend at the end of January in order to fit all the games in.

A one-day final will also be played this year.

A date for the final is yet to be set but it will either be played on a Sunday following the declaration competition or a week after the March 13 international between the Black Cap and Bangladesh.

"We are just going to get some feedback from the clubs before we confirm that date," Petrie said.

Declaration cricket will get under way in late February and be completed on the last Saturday in March.

All three formats will count towards the Bing Harris Shield. However the one-day and twenty20 finals are standalone fixtures and will not count towards the final standings.

The Otago Cricket Association has assumed responsibility for delivering club cricket this season following a two-year trial. It has replaced the Dunedin Cricket Association.

The senior grade has been rebranded as the premier grade and has been reduced from seven to six teams. That means the awkward bye, which has existed in the top grade for the past two summers, is gone.

Carisbrook-Dunedin and Kaikorai have opted to merge their top two teams and will play under the one banner.

Seven teams never seemed sustainable and questions remain whether a city the size of Dunedin can sustain six premier-grade teams.

There was some surprise expressed in the cricket community that University-Grange was not one of the clubs to combine given it has struggled in the grade since returning in 2018-19 following a four-year absence.

"It is great to have a six-team competition again and we’ve just got to make sure it is sustainable," Petrie said.

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