By Oliver Lees
The Gisborne and District Cricket Association is facing a shake-up with several changes to be made to the competition’s structure for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
The GDCA’s top flight McIntyre Cup will welcome three additional sides from the Johnstone Shield, with Rupertswood, Sunbury Kangaroos and Wallan all to be promoted.
The top division will play a mixture of two-day and one-day matches while the lower divisions will play an entire season of one-day matches.
Sunbury Kangaroos president Shane Woolley said he hopes it is an opportunity for the club to grow.
“We would have preferred to have been promoted through winning the Johnstone Shield,” Woolley said.
“But I can understand from the GDCA’s perspective that they wanted to get more teams in to make the bottom end of the league more competitive.
“We understand that the top four sides in the McIntyre Cup are powerhouse sides and it will take some time for our players to get comfortable with the difference in speed of the game.
“We’re the smallest team in the competition. We were in D Grade not long ago and we’ve worked our way up to almost getting into the grand final [in the Johnstone Shield] this year.”
After finishing second on the ladder at the end of the 2020-21 season, the Kangaroos fell just short of the grand final.
The Kangaroos lost their semi-final to Bacchus Marsh’s second side by 10 runs, who would go on to comfortably defeat Wallan by 108 runs in the grand final.
Although they’d earned their promotion opportunity, Bacchus’ second team will remain in the Johnstone Shield as they already have their first team in the McIntyre Cup.
Promotion to the McIntyre Cup adds another dynamic to what has been a period of change for the Kangaroos.
Two years ago, the club members voted to change the club’s name from Ashfield Cricket Club to the Sunbury Kangaroos, in order to join forces with the existing Sunbury Kangaroos Football Netball Club.
In August, works will begin on an upgrade at the club’s Boardman precinct, which will include a new social club and modernised change rooms that are female-friendly.
Woolley said all of these changes were part of a long term vision for the club.
“It’s unfortunate timing as the upgrades will impact on the cricket season, we might have to operate out of a tin shed for a period of time,” he said.
“But we can’t just be thinking about this year, we’ve got to be looking ahead.
Seeing how far we’ve come, it’s an absolute credit to everyone who’s stuck fat with the club.”