PHIL Hetherington admits that living in Bendigo prevented him from ever reaching his full potential as a cricketer.
Widely-regarded as one of Bendigo's top batsmen of the last 20 years, Hetherington relied largely on natural talent in 17 seasons in Premier Cricket.
Deciding not to relocate to Melbourne meant the Golden Square star rarely trained.
After marking his first XI debut for South Melbourne as a 16-year-old, Hetherington played mostly at the state's top level until he hung up the pads at Carlton in 2005.
It's a fine career, but one that Hetherington knows would have benefited from quality training.
It's why he supports Bendigo's push for a Premier Cricket club.
"I've got no doubt I'd be a much better player if I was training in Melbourne or the equivalent standard," Hetherington said.
"There was a lot of weeks where I just wasn't training, and that's probably a really good reason, if you had a team in Bendigo you'd get the quality training."
Hetherington doubts a Bendigo-based club could field four XIs, but he believes the top side would be competitive - after a couple of seasons.
"It wouldn't be easybeats," he said.
"There's definitely enough talent within the competition, but I reckon it would take time to get up to standard."
Some fear a Premier Cricket club would detract from the Bendigo District Cricket Association.
Hetherington has no doubt it would lift the standard of Bendigo cricket.
"I would be certain that long term it would benefit the local competition," he said.
"It would draw players and they would take back more professionalism from being part of it and guys are going to go back better players."