IN the past two weeks I've sat back with interest as the debate surrounding Bendigo fielding a Premier Cricket club unfolded.
Some negative, narrow-minded nay-sayers poured cold water on the idea, but overall the reaction was positive.
The negativity was based around the Bendigo District Cricket Association losing its best players and therefore its status in the Bendigo sporting community.
My response to that is Bendigo cricket needs a shake-up and the Premier Cricket idea is exactly what the sport needs in our region.
The key aspect for me is a Bendigo team in the Premier Cricket club is not about the current day BDCA stars in Heath Behrens, Scott Johnson, Ben DeAraugo and co.
It's about the next generation.
Take this list of 12 under-17 players - Nathan Fitzpatrick, James Ryan, Xavier Ryan (Bendigo), Corey Bicknell (Bendigo United), Coby Hansen (Eaglehawk), Isaac Conway, Liam Bowe (Sandhurst), Jack Neylon, Isaac Miller (Strathdale), Hamish Schumacher, Xavier Crone (Strathfieldsaye) and Brayden Stepien (White Hills).
To many Bendigo cricket followers those names will mean little, but that squad of 12 are the next Behrens, Johnson or DeAraugo.
Potentially, in five years time they will form the nucleus of Bendigo's Premier Cricket Club.
Potentially, one of those 12 boys could be the next Bendigo cricket product to make the Victorian Bushrangers squad.
The best way to harness that potential is to have our own Premier Cricket club.
Sandhurst's Isaac Conway, pictured above, is the perfect example why a Bendigo team would work.
The talented wicket-keeper batsman has been chased heavily by multiple clubs in Melbourne and is set to play some second XI games for Essendon this summer.
The financial and time strain on Isaac and his parents to get him to Melbourne several times a week for training and games must be taxing.
A Bendigo-based team eradicates those problems and keeps our brightest young cricket stars in the region.
This pathway might even help cricket keep some of its most talented players from turning to football and other sports.
It would also give young cricketers in Bendigo something to strive for.
With all due respect to those who have represented the BDCA in the past, you don't hear young cricketers saying their aim is to play for Bendigo at Melbourne Country Week.
A Bendigo club in Premier Cricket with the opportunity to play against first-class cricketers - that would be a different story.
At the very least a Premier Cricket club would give cricket in the region a breath of fresh air.
Now is the time to strike. A move of this nature won't just happen, the BDCA has to make it happen.
Time is right to give our young stars a chance
The best way to harness that potential is to have our own club.