THE Bendigo District Cricket Association will change the structure of junior cricket this season.
With unanimous support from the 10 clubs, the BDCA has changed its age groups from under-11, 13, 15 and 17 to under-12, 14, 16 and 18.
The popular T20-Blast cricket for beginners, played at the QEO on a Friday night, will be retained as an under-10 competition.
BDCA junior co-ordinator Tony Ryan said the changes are designed to strengthen the competition and help retain teenagers in the sport.
“We’re now married in with the Northern Rivers catchment area,’’ Ryan said.
“Bendigo was the only league that had under-11, 13, 15 and 17. Echuca, Seymour, Shepparton all had under-12, 14 and 16.
“We’ve incorporated under-18s to give young players an extra year at under-age level to develop.
“We’ve noticed that there’s been a number of boys who drop out of cricket after the age of 16-17. We’re hoping having the under-18s will give players an extra year to grow and stay in the system.”
Under-18 cricket will take the place of the under-17 division and will be played on turf wickets on Saturday mornings.
The cut-off date for each age group will remain September 1.
“Basically, the team each child played in last summer will be eligible to play together again this summer,’’ Ryan said.
Ryan said the BDCA was also likely to change its junior representative structure.
“In the past we’ve played under-12s, 13s, 14s, 15s, 16s, 17s and under-21s,’’ Ryan said.
“We’re looking at moving into even age brackets there as well. It makes junior rep cricket more elite.”