Highlands District Cricket Association kicks off in October

Bowral club coach Phil Wells and first grade captain Dave Spies. Photo: Lauren Strode
Bowral club coach Phil Wells and first grade captain Dave Spies. Photo: Lauren Strode

With the cricket season just weeks away, there’s plenty of excitement across the Highlands with numbers on the rise.

HDCA chair and Bowral Cricket Club patron Simon Taufel said the competition had a few more teams than last season.

One club that is hoping for plenty of success in the upcoming season is Bowral.

With a new captain and club coaches, Bowral has its eyes set on a first grade premiership.

“From what I’ve heard we’ve got a little bit of fresh blood in the squad which is good. I think there’ll be a lot more competition for spots and that’ll make the club stronger and the team better,” club coach Phil Wells said.

“Dave’s [Spies- first grade captain] got a really strong focus of winning games and winning a premiership.”

He and Mitch Calder have both come on board as club coaches for Bowral this season and have plenty of experience between them.

Wells said one of the keys to success this season would be to pick the right mix of players.

“If the batters can do their job [score runs], the bowlers will just have to take wickets. It’s really important they get the right mix of players. It [success] depends on the team balance.

“A bit of culture stuff is really important as well.”

For Wells, much of the team’s improvement and learning will come out on the field rather than in the nets.

“I think that in country cricket it’s very important they’re aware of the game situation. Seeing what they know on the field in game a scenario is really important.

“We’ll do a little bit to technical stuff in the nets working on getting the correct technique but in in terms of learning the game, I think you learn a lot of it on the field.”

Taufel said the HDCA hoped to expand the first grade competition back to six teams over the next few years.

And with the introduction of a women’s social competition and a revamp of a junior program, there’s opportunities for all Highlanders to enjoy cricket.

“It’s really important for everyone to be involved and there’s so many things you can do now- you can play, umpire, score, support, train, coach or manage,” Taufel said.

“We want to see cricket a major social activity and sport in the Highlands.”

Already he said they association had had plenty of interest in the women’s social competition which would be held at Bradman Oval on Friday nights.

“[This competition] is a good initiative by the Bradman Foundation, the HDCA and the local community to try and promote an activity for women.”

If the competition is a successful one, he hoped they would be able to establish a more structured competition.

With role models such as Lauren Cheatle to already have come out of the Highlands, Taufel said the social competition would be a good way to introduce women to the game.

There has also been a revamp of what used to be Milo In2 Cricket.

The program is now called Junior Blasters and Taufel said while the program remained very much the same, more of the registration fees would now go back to local clubs.

“It allows clubs to reinvest that registration fee back into promoting and developing junior cricket which is the most important thing and just keep growing participation.”

But while there are plenty of positives ahead of the 2018/19 season, the HDCA still faces some challenges.

“The real challenge is how do we keep juniors once they get to under-15/16 age actively involved and still playing cricket. We have to start thinking a bit differently about midweek twilight comps and things like that,” Taufel said.

“Society keeps changing and people are time poor, so how do we keep them actively involved and engaged with cricket? We’ve got to try and meet the market here and develop new ways of keeping kids involved.”

The 2018/19 season will begin on October 6 with senior games,

Juniors will start their season the following week on October 13 and Taufel said the Burns Cup would also be contested in the Highlands on that weekend.

“It’s really important for people to have a go.”