Central West Wranglers skipper Jameel Qureshi says country cricketers have every right to feel insulted after the Plan B Regional Bash finals were move from the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The first three installments of the Country Cricket NSW Twenty20 competition have been capped with semi-finals and a grand final at the SCG, but this summer those games will be staged at North Sydney Oval.
Cricket NSW confirmed the move on Tuesday morning, the rescheduling a forced squeeze after the closure of the next-door Allianz Stadium resulted in a backlog of fixtures needing to be played at the Moore Park precinct.
The SCG Trust determines what is played at Australia's oldest sporting stadium, with Cricket NSW just one of a handful of tenants that requires use of the ground.
Cricket NSW says it worked for months to try and fit the Regional Bash finals into the SCG’s packed calendar, but a date couldn’t be found.
... it’s like telling your kids at Christmas they’re going to get a motorbike and then they wake up and there’s a push bike with no wheels under the tree.Wranglers skipper Jameel Qureshi after the Regional Bash finals were moved from the SCG.
The original SCG finals date was December 2, but that was postponed in November. The new finals date is February 17, with the games to be played at North Sydney Oval.
In a statement, Cricket NSW community cricket general manager Ivan Spyrdz said “North Sydney Oval is a significant part of Sydney’s rich sporting tradition”.
“We are committed to working with all stadia stakeholders to ensure the Plan B Regional Bash continues to be celebrated at high quality elite venues such as North Sydney Oval,” he added.
Qureshi, though, said his side doesn’t share that same sentiment towards North Sydney Oval and was livid the NSW Premier Cricket Twenty20 Cup finals, a short-form competition for Sydney grade cricketers, weren’t also pushed off the SCG.
Those games will be played on Sunday, December 16, in an identical format to the planned Regional Bash finals.
Qureshi feels like country cricket is being kicked to the curb.
“Essentially it’s like telling your kids at Christmas they’re going to get a motorbike and then they wake up and there’s a push bike with no wheels under the tree,” Qureshi said.
“How could you be happy?
“Next year, Nic Broes, Tanvir Singh, Ben Mitchell, all these great young players will be picked up by Sydney clubs. What do we get in return? A trip to North Sydney … it’s take, take, take.”
NSW Country Cricket country programs managers Bruce Whitehouse reiterated the stance of Spyrdz, saying he was happy the finals were being played at North Sydney Oval.
Qureshi says he’ll likely reconsider playing in next year’s Regional Bash.
The Allianz rebuild will take around three years, with the SCG’s schedule likely to be highly congested throughout that period.
“Good luck to them next year if it’s at North Sydney Oval,” Qureshi said.
“It’s a beautiful ground, don’t get me wrong … but nothing compares to the SCG. I find it a bit insulting.”
The Blayney-based veteran said a trip to the SCG would leave a lasting legacy for cricket in this region, and that’s something city-based cricketers don’t understand.
“We’ve got players who were so excited for their kids to watch their Dads play on the SCG, and then we’ve got young guys who were getting a chance too … can you imagine how proud their parents would have been,” he said.
“We would play on a sixth-day wicket after a Test match, the day after a Big Bash game … anytime. Surely they could have found a date.”
The date that has been finalised, February 17, is also the date for the Western Zone Premier League final.
Both Bathurst and Orange, two sides that feel into the Wranglers team, are in contention to play in that decider.
Central West earned progression through to its maiden Regional Bash finals in November after wins over Orana and the Illawarra, and will be joined by Coffs Coast Chargers, ACT Aces and Central Coast Rush in this year’s big games.
All four finals-bound franchises are first-time pool winners, meaning this year’s finals would have been each sides’ first chance to play at the SCG.
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