Newcastle push to play Sydney T20s

NEWCASTLE’S best cricketers could be playing in the Sydney first-grade Twenty20 competition this summer if the idea is ratified in the next few weeks.

Newcastle District Cricket Association chairman Paul Marjoribanks will attend a Sydney Cricket Association board meeting on Tuesday at the SCG to state the case for a Newcastle representative team to be added to Australia’s premier club competition.

The proposal has support from Cricket NSW chief executive David Gilbert but requires the SCA board’s approval. Illawarra are also hoping to be included.

The Sydney grade cricket schedule is yet to be determined, but the T20 competition is likely to include four to six games to be played prior to the Big Bash League, which starts in December.

Marjoribanks approached the SCA last month and proposed Newcastle entering the Sydney 50-over competition.

The idea was rejected and the SCA returned with a possible offer of inclusion in the T20 competition.

Marjoribanks hopes entry into the T20 comp will eventually lead to Newcastle playing one-day cricket in Sydney.

‘‘Our current rep program is focused around country cricket, and the match against the NSW Second XI last season highlighted some of the shortcomings in our system,’’ Marjoribanks said.

‘‘We have a generation of players who have probably never played in front of a state selector.

‘‘The Sydney grade structure is the strongest in Australia, and giving our local rep players the opportunity to compete at that level can only be better for both the players and Newcastle cricket.’’

Over the winter the SCA commissioned an independent review of their competition.

One of the key recommendations of the review was for the SCA to consider the inclusion of Newcastle and Illawarra in its competitions.

SCA chairman John Warn said he supported the proposal, but to due to the logistics of organising the expanded 22-team comp it might not happen until 2013-14.

‘‘I’m delighted the we’re having the discussion and trying to progress this because I think it’s a really healthy, positive direction for cricket generally in NSW,’’ he said.

‘‘In my role as chairman of the SCA we’re always trying to improve and strengthen our competition. We think by looking at and doing feasibilities on having Newcastle and Illawarra teams join the SCA competition, it can only be a positive thing.’’

Warn said any decision on including Newcastle and Illawarra would need to be made by the end of the month in order to schedule the forthcoming summer program.

He also stressed it was important to schedule the games so the T20 comp did not adversely affect Newcastle grade cricket.

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