By Jacob Page
OPINION: South Canterbury club cricketers have made their opinions clear and changes have been made: now the players need to perform.
The South Canterbury cricket season will get under way today, weather permitting, with a two-innings a side 20/25 over game.
It will be one of four one-day formats decided by club representatives and the South Canterbury Cricket officials for the 2012-2013.
Ignoring the demise of the two-day Tweedy Cup competition for a second, South Canterbury Cricket executive officer David Fisher and the South Canterbury Cricket Association Board deserve a lot of credit for listening and responding to their senior players and adopting an approach to keep them happy.
The players who moaned about the pedestrian nature of two-day cricket – and they were the majority last year – have got their way. Now they will have a steady schedule of one-day cricket.
As the purists cry, South Canterbury Cricket should be applauded for trying to be innovative even if there is a feeling of heading into the unknown.
The players can hardly say their voices have not been heard under the leadership of Fisher.
Last year, efforts were made to help bring out decent overseas professionals and improve pitch quality with the assistance of Aorangi Oval groundsman Michael Davies and the hard work of club members.
The players now have what they want with the playing structure – so they must perform.
Sub-standard team totals of under 50, a regular occurrence last season, must cease and players have to show the same commitment to the game that South Canterbury Cricket are demonstrating.
The demise of the two-day format is still sad for the purists and there are some players who liked the more traditional style of the game.
It seems unlikely the monopoly of one-day cricket this season will do anything to improve player temperament when it comes to Hawke Cup cricket.
South Canterbury batsmen have struggled to occupy the crease for long periods of time and have lacked the technique to survive bowler-friendly conditions in recent seasons.
Bowlers may also struggle with a heavy workload of a Hawke Cup match if they are limited to short, sharp spells, though the bowling depth around the province looks stronger than the batting so far.
The demise of Roncalli College from top level club cricket became a sad reality in the pre-season.
Teachers Dave Mills and Gavin Hamel had worked extremely hard for two seasons trying to make the team competitive, with some adult-player help.
Hamel especially worked hard on upgrading the Ashbury Park 6 pitch, which was in a poor state when Roncalli inherited it and he took pride in its gradual improvement.
Time will tell if the shortened formats have the desired results on player numbers and player enjoyment.
It is time to embrace change and give it a chance.
By Fisher’s own admission it may not be perfect but at least South Canterbury Cricket have listened to those playing the game.