Following a year-long consultation with key stakeholders, the outcome now streamlines the journey from junior cricket to the state’s representative squads. It also aligns the pathway with the state’s highest level of club competition, Victorian Premier Cricket with the introduction of an Under 18s competition involving Premier Cricket clubs.
In metropolitan regions, the existing Victorian Premier Cricket representative competitions of the Dowling Shield and Marg Jennings Cup will be shifted to younger age groups. The male age group will change from Under 17 to Under 16, while the female competition will move from Under 18 to Under 15.
Country regions will have a new competition called the ‘Country Cup’, catering to the same age groups as the Dowling Shield and Marg Jennings Cup competitions.
The Country Cup will be delivered by Cricket Victoria’s Cricket Performance department and aims to provide equal opportunities for talented players across regional Victoria.
The competition will involve six Victorian Country Cricket League (VCCL) regions; Western Waves, Central Highlands, Mallee Murray Suns, Northern Rivers, North-East Knights, and Gippsland Pride.
The two remaining country regions (Barwon Rockets & Southeast Country Sharks) both have a Premier Cricket club within their region boundaries (Barwon – Geelong Cricket Club & Southeast Country – Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club).
The introduction of the Premier Cricket Under 18s competition and Country Cup along with updates to the Dowling Shield and Marg Jennings Cup will replace the Youth Premier League.
The inclusion of the Premier Cricket Under 18s competition will make for an easier transition into Premier Cricket for the best under 18 talent in the state, providing optimal environments for player development and deliver increased match opportunities.
Male under 18 matches will take place on Sundays throughout the season while female matches will be held in the December/January period. Senior men’s 4th XI and women’s 3rd XI teams will continue to operate as open age teams.
Each of the 18 men’s Premier Cricket clubs and 10 women’s Premier Cricket clubs will have their own academy established as part of a Premier Cricket Junior Development Program.
Country regions will also see the implementation of a Country Development Program with the six country regions also introducing academy squads of up to 30.
The academy squads will provide additional opportunities for up to 1,200 of the state’s best emerging talent and strongly align players with Premier Clubs in metro regions.
Talent for these squads will rely on local community clubs and associations, with the VMCU, VCCL, and VSDCA set to play a pivotal role in establishing young talent.
Squads for the Marg Jennings Cup, Dowling Shield and Country Cup carnivals will then be selected from the development academies.
The Premier Cricket Under 18s, Dowling Shield, Marg Jennings Cup, and Country Cup, will all consist of five rounds, plus finals.
The best talent from these competitions will be selected in Cricket Victoria’s U17 and U19 Emerging Player Programs, from where the Under 17 and Under 19 boys’ and girls’ Victorian teams will be selected.
Cricket Victoria’s CEO Nick Cummins said the changes would allow for better collaboration across the state.
“The Player Pathway is a critical piece of the puzzle to identify new talent at all levels of Victorian cricket. In making these changes we’re looking to make it easier for players, parents and clubs to identify their avenue into the pathway and what is required. Whether you play cricket in Swan Hill, Seymour or Surrey Hills, this clarifies your path to achieving your cricket aspirations,” Cummins said.
“We want to build a consistent process that supports us in our mission to create more Australian players. By aligning our premier club competition with the objectives of the pathway, all of Victorian cricket works collectively towards common goals,” Cricket Victoria’s General Manager of Cricket Performance, Graham Manou said.
“We identify talent, prioritise high quality coaching for those players and build opportunities for them to demonstrate how good they can be.”
Cricket Victoria’s General Manager of Premier Cricket, Liam Murphy said the updates create greater purpose for Victorian Premier Cricket.
“This has been a significant piece of work for Victorian cricket and I’d like to thank all the stakeholders who’ve supported us and provided their reflections to build a successful pathway for the future,” Murphy said.
“Premier Cricket understands its role and the opportunity to have an even greater connection and impact on talent coming through the ranks. It’s an exciting time for players and for clubs looking at their next generations of talent”
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