Uni-Grange is back; so is the bye

George Morris.
George Morris.
University-Grange has been welcomed back into the senior grade after a four year absence.

The support was overwhelming, with all but one club voting in favour of the club's return at a Dunedin Cricket Association (DCA) meeting on Tuesday night.

The delegates also voted in a new administration model in which the Otago Cricket Association (OCA) will take a more active role in running the game at club level.

DCA chairman George Morris hopes the decisions will prove a positive step forward for the sport.

He was particularly pleased the majority of the clubs were able to look past their own agendas and support University-Grange's return.

''There was good discussion and concerns were raised,'' he said.

''My opinion is that we have to give it a go. There is a supposed negative of a bye, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

''People will know well in advance what weekend they will have free of cricket. It gives them an opportunity to plan and do something.

''But if it succeeds we will be bucking the trend that is happening throughout the country,'' he added, in reference to cricket's declining participation numbers, particularly at youth level.

Morris said there was no talk of bringing in another team to avoid the bye as has been done in the past.

Most of the clubs were happy to sacrifice the odd weekend of cricket to grow the game. But there was concern about where the extra players were going to come from, given the limited player pool in Dunedin.

''The concern was the player base is still going to be the same but there will be one extra team,'' Morris said.

''But University-Grange have been trying to extend the player base. They are keen to do more with university students and you never know what might happen there.

University-Grange president Matiu Workman was thrilled, but also pragmatic.

''The DCA were amazing in recognising that this is an opportunity for us to hopefully add something to the competition,'' Workman said.

''They have put to the side the issue around the bye to support us ... and I can't thank them enough for giving us a chance.''

Morris, who is in his 16th season on the DCA, believes the move to a new administration model will be a positive step.

The change has been introduced in response to a New Zealand Cricket review which recommended cricket in Dunedin needed a single organisation to steer the game and to provide clarity around the future direction of the sport.

A lot of the details still have to be worked through, Morris said. But the OCA will now take the lead and assume responsibility.

The new model will be reviewed following a two-year trial period.

The DCA will continue to operate but its role will ''evolve'', perhaps into more of an advisory panel.

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