Bendigo's grand ground should host more first XI
WHEN reflecting back on last weekend’s Bendigo District Cricket Association grand final, three things spring to mind:
1. There’s no substitute for class, experience, momentum and confidence.
Bendigo United had all four elements in spades when it mattered most this season and dished out one of the biggest BDCA grand final hidings (164 runs) against an opponent - Golden Square - that finished 17 points clear of it on the ladder.
2. The fact Golden Square didn’t win the premiership further reiterates just how hard flags are to win.
Golden Square sat on top of the ladder every round this season and went into the grand final having lost just one game.
But there’s no silverware to show at Wade Street for a season where Square did very little wrong, apart from being comprehensively outplayed with bat and ball in the grand final.
3. And thirdly, why doesn’t the BDCA play more first XI cricket on the QEO?
The grand final was just the second senior BDCA game played on the QEO for the season-proper.
When you saw the way the QEO was presented – I’ve never seen the outfield look better, as the picture shows, and the quality of the wicket was highlighted by Bendigo United’s 6-283 on Saturday - you can’t help but think what an under-utilised facility for first XI it is in summer now that the Sandhurst and Bendigo cricket clubs have both moved away from it.
The QEO is billed as Bendigo’s showpiece sporting facility, and those who ventured to the ground last weekend saw why.
But it being used just twice in the season-proper by Bendigo’s premier cricket competition seems a waste of one of country Victoria’s iconic sporting venues.
This season the QEO has hosted Bendigo Country Week matches, the BDCA Twenty20 semi-final double-header and grand final, Australian Cricket Association Masters clash against Bendigo, the School Sport Australia 12-and-Under Championships, plus the newly-introduced weekly Friday night T20 Blast junior games.
So it hasn’t been bereft of cricket, but on weekends, it has largely sat vacant.
Remember, this is a ground that back in its heyday for cricket hosted touring international teams, but these days Bendigo's first XI cricketers barely get a chance to play on it.
Hopefully, next season the BDCA considers putting the QEO back on the first XI cricketing map.
One idea could be to perhaps schedule each round’s marquee match on the QEO once the ground becomes available – usually in November – after its annual post-football maintenance works.
Or maybe the BDCA could at least consider playing one match in each of its one-day rounds at the QEO as a day-night clash.
And considering the BDCA has gone to the trouble of creating the Keck-Findlay Shield for the one-day premiers, perhaps a one-day QEO final finishing under lights – possibly on Australia Day - could also be added to the fixture.
Whatever the BDCA decides to do next season regarding games at the QEO, last weekend reminded us just how fantastic a cricketing venue it is, and for that, full credit goes to the City of Greater Bendigo curating staff.
Hopefully, next season, there might be a bit more work for QEO curators.