TIM Welsford knows the challenges Bendigo cricketers face trying to make the elite level better than most.
The last Bendigo cricketer to debut for Victoria, back in 2004, Welsford travelled to Melbourne up to six times a week as a teenager to chase his dream.
Welsford first pulled on Kangaroo Flat's baggy green cap in the BDCA's first XI as a 14-year-old, but upped stumps at the Roos two years later and stepped into Premier Cricket at Northcote.
"We travelled a heap throughout that time, so I was just thankful to have parents who were committed to the cause, I guess," Welsford said.
"Mum worked night shift so that worked out, but Dad had to change his work arrangements to fit in the travel commitments.
"I couldn't have done it without their support."
Welsford went on to play five one-day matches for Victoria and the 31-year-old is now captain-coach at Carlton.
Few country cricketers would be able to match his commitment to progress through the ranks and Welsford supported the concept of a Premier Cricket team based in Bendigo.
"There's no doubt it would work, but there's a few hoops to jump through, like you've got to have four XIs," he said.
"I don't think the travel would be an issue, I know Premier Cricket, now Cricket Victoria, want to expand the competition.
"So there's a view to have 20 teams, so they are moving teams into growth corridors.
"It's certainly got some merit, but it is pretty onerous the requirements that are placed on Premier clubs, and so it should be."
Welsford earned his stripes in a tough era of BDCA cricket and believes there's enough talent in the region to be competitive in Premier Cricket's top grade.
"I think (Bendigo) would be able to compete at the top level fine, absolutely," Welsford said.
"The challenge is to have a strong club, even some of our current premier clubs can be competitive at the top level but then it tapers off a bit.
"It's certainly got some merit and I think Cricket Victoria's in a state of mind at the moment if it's good for cricket then let's look at it."