Tigers return to top grade to be built on youth
NORTHSIDERS have been given the green light to return to Division One cricket for the coming season.
The Ipswich and West Moreton Cricket Association ratified the decision to readmit the Tigers this week, following the club's withdrawal from last summer's Division One competition.
The reason was the club lost more than half its 2013-14 first grade side.
But a year of regrouping and a change in philosophy has the Tigers confident of a successful return and a secure future.
"We'll be competitive," club president Troy Noe said.
"We've got quite a number of young fellas.
"It's the only way you can build for the future.
"Our seconds made the semis last season and our thirds were in the final so there is a bit of depth behind us."
The alternative was enticing a host of old boys back.
But Noe knows that would only delay the inevitable decline.
"We became a little too team orientated, rather than club orientated," Noe said, in reference to the club's Division One demise.
"That's going back four or five years. So we had to change the culture."
Promoting youth, while potentially painful to begin with, is seen as a better long-term solution.
Swifts and Thunder have proven as much in the past two seasons.
It will be for the likes of 18-year-old Ryan Benson and Matthew Fairhurst, whose 2013-14 was their first in the top division, to fill the senior player void.
Benson spent a season with the Ipswich Logan Hornets last summer but was happy to give up the Brisbane premier competition to return to the Tigers.
"It was the whole club feel really for me," Benson said of what lured him back.
"The boys I played with that last year were top blokes.
"It's something I can't stay away from."
Benson retains ambitions to again play Brisbane grade cricket.
But he knows a few seasons in Division One in Ipswich will better prepare him to return.
And he knows he will enjoy his cricket with his mates, irrespective of how many games they win.
"With the younger boys it's going to be hard to consistently string wins together," he said.
"But youth will take us places, even this season.
"A lot have played rep cricket at a high level."
Noe hasn't ruled out the return of a few former players, to help guide the youngsters initially.
But the Tigers have not been trying to recruit from other IWMCA clubs.
Instead they are trying to forge closer ties to the Northern Suburbs Rugby League Club and Ipswich Knights Soccer Club, to try to get their players playing cricket in the footy off-season.