The Newcastle District Cricket Association has called for local Hunter clubs to enter submissions of interest for a new women’s Twenty20 competition, with aims to begin the potential regional league by late October of this year.
Twelve first grade clubs – Belmont, Cardiff-Boolaroo, Charlestown, Hamilton-Wickham, Merewether, Newcastle City, Stockton, Toronto, University, Wallsend, Waratah Mayfield, and Wests – have been approached about submitting teams.
NDCA has confirmed the competition will go ahead if at least four of the twelve organisations tick the boxes required for submission. Each founding team will also be taken through a grant application process to assist the foundation of the league.
“We haven’t had a women’s competition before, and now we’re hoping to establish one. Cricket is currently the only major sport within our region not to have embraced women’s participation, a situation everyone agrees needs to change,” said association secretary Royce McCormack.
“Women’s participation, and getting everyone involved in the national sport, has been something that’s been on the radar of everyone involved in cricket, from Newcastle to Cricket Australia, for a long time. It just has to take place.”
The Women’s Chronicle can reveal the competition will be played either as a mid-week twilight competition or as a weekend league on Sunday mornings.
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It has been suggested by NDCA that the league would be played across suitable facilities around the region. Learmonth Park, Alfred Harker Oval, Waratah No.1 Oval, J R Ron Hill Oval, and Kahibah Oval were all suggested as possible league venues.
Newcastle chairman Paul Marjoribanks said the association is “hopeful” of starting with six founding teams in the opening 2019/20 season.
With a half-dozen rosters joining the inaugural tournament, NDCA would aim to establish the league with a five or ten-week season, before breaking to finals after a single or double round-robin format in Summer.
“We certainly aren’t expecting twelve teams straight off the bat like we have in our first-grade competition, and we’ve set four as our minimum, but we have so many areas of women’s cricketers in the region so I think we’ll get more teams,” he said.
According to news out of the association’s AGM held earlier this week, where the potential foundation of the women’s T20 league was a hot topic, it was suggested some clubs may join the competition as joint ventures, at least in early days.
For many prospective teams, and the NDCA, the main question raised has been how to promote the new league and boost the player-base. Marjoribanks knows this will be the main trick in the early steps of the fledgling regional competition.
“I think the promotion of the league and the teams is the key, there’s an untapped market there in regards to players. We want to make it attractive for the clubs, and for the players who would be joining those clubs,” he said.
In another boost for the promotion side, there have been rumblings the league could see a few “high profile” Hunter cricketers ply their trade in the new competition, as long as other team and club commitments don’t overlap.
“We’ll have to wait and see, it’s all very exciting,” Marjoribanks said.
Newcastle cricket has given all potential clubs until 5pm Friday August 16 to respond to the application process. Once clubs have been confirmed, the association will begin formulating fixtures for the inaugural 2019/20 season.