Two-day club cricket returns to South Canterbury at the request of most of the captains while a combined Celtic and Roncalli College team will provide a sixth senior club team this season.
The first ball will be bowled next Saturday, with the one-day competition getting things under way.
The two-day Tweedy Cup will start on November 16.
There will be eight teams in the Friday night Twenty20 (T20) competition, with the six senior teams, Celtic, Celtic/Roncalli, Waimate, Temuka, Star and Timaru joined by Timaru Boys’ High School (TBHS) and the Cavaliers.
Roncalli College played second grade last season after it was decided they did not have the player depth capable of fielding a competitive team.
However, with the return of South Canterbury’s most prolific run scorer, Andrew Buckingham that looks set to help their cause.
Celtic will still have its stand alone team with strict rules established to prevent players hopping from the Celtic team to the combined Celtic/Roncalli team on a regular basis.
Celtic club president Ants de Joux said the merger would help both parties.
“Roncalli have six or seven guys who are way to good to be playing second grade cricket . . . So, we’ll provide five adults who will stay largely the same, but if they are unavailable there are second grade players from our team who can fill in.
Teacher in charge of cricket at Roncalli, Dave Mills, said without de Joux, the team would not have come about.
He said the chance to have the schoolboys play with some experienced senior cricketers would be valuable.
South Canterbury Cricket chief executive Tony Lewis said the return of two-day cricket came from a desire to improve the standard of play, especially for the representative team.
He denied allowing the players to vote on the format was like the tail wagging the dog.
“The players are committed to it and there is a real desire, especially from the Hawke Cup players, to play the longer form of the game.
“We got a Hawke Cup challenge last year and with the renewed focus it could be something very special for the region.”
The Rectory ground at TBHS could also see more senior cricket this year.
The T20 final will be played on Waitangi Day (February 6), the one-day final will be on February 9, and the Tweedy Cup final is scheduled for March 22 and 23.