Redbacks merger among changes for new season
A NEW first division merger team is among the sides preparing for the start of the 2017/18 intercity and Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association (IWMCA) seasons.
IWMCA president Bruce Raleigh was confident the newly-formed South East Redbacks would have a competitive combination after former clubs Swifts and Eastern Taipans joined forces.
The Redbacks will be part of the season-opening one-day series between Ipswich and Toowoomba starting on October 7.
Last year's inaugural intercity competition was successful with positive feedback from players and officials.
Powerhouse Toowoomba team Western Districts beat Ipswich competition representatives Northsiders in the final to claim the Harding-Madsen Shield.
Raleigh said the same format would apply this season, before the IWMCA runs its regular two-day competition starting after Christmas.
With Swifts and Eastern Taipans struggling for numbers late last season, the South East Redbacks were formed in the off-season.
"From a club point of view, we are pretty excited that the Taipans have joined with Swifts,'' Raleigh said, having been involved with Redbank-based teams for many years.
"It's certainly built the strength up in the numbers.''
With Thunder withdrawing its team from first division this season, the five IWMCA sides playing are Centrals, Northsiders, Laidley, Brothers and South East Redbacks.
Joining the IWMCA teams in the one day intercity competition are defending champions Wests, along with Metropolitan Easts, Highfields, University and Northern Brothers Diggers.
"Everybody enjoyed it,'' Raleigh said of last year's new format between the two cricketing centres.
He said the off-season changes had provided some extra challenges drafting a draw.
However, IWMCA senior co-ordinator Eleesa Lewis said the one-day competition draw was prepared and ready to go.
"It's a full round this year so everyone plays each other once,'' she said. "There's no pools or anything like that.
"I think it will be a lot better.''
The other main change is playing the series under a 50 over format, after last year experimenting with a 45 over concept.
She said the adjustment followed an online survey at the end of last season.
"One of their big things was playing a full 50 overs . . . so we've changed that this year,'' she said.
"Most of our comments were all positive with what we've already been doing.''
Matches will start at 10am on Saturday, with one Sunday game needed to complete the draw requirements.
This year's one day final series will be split over two weekends after being contested on consecutive days in the inaugural season.
That means the semi-finals will be fought out on December 9 or 10, with the final scheduled for January 14.
With Thunder concentrating on rebuilding in second division, Lewis said a bye would be included in the IWMCA two-day competition starting in the new year.
She said the IWMCA second division competition would also have a bye each round due to the Swifts-Taipans merger.
Lewis was finalising the draw for the third and fourth grade competitions.
She was also working on a schedule for the annual T20 Monday night competition, which is set to start next month with a second division series added.
The Ipswich-Toowoomba one day competition is set to start on October 7 with five teams from each centre involved.
The format is 50 overs this season (changed from 45).
The semi-finals are set down for December 9/10 with the one-day final on January 14.
IWMCA's annual two-day competition will start after Christmas.
The annual Monday night T20 competition will start next month with second division added.