Gloucester to join Manning cricket comp

Big inclusion: Ryan Yates will link up with Gloucester Bushmen later in the Manning second grade season.
Big inclusion: Ryan Yates will link up with Gloucester Bushmen later in the Manning second grade season.

A berth in the Mid North Coast Cricket Premier League is a realistic outcome for Gloucester Bushmen, according to its president Matthew Higgins.

The side will take its first step to achieving their ultimate goal when they turn out in the Manning second grade competition this season.

Higgins is confident the side will find success and give players an opportunity to develop their game.

"The idea came about over the last few years when we ran the four team competition," Higgins explained.

"We want our players to improve their skills and by putting out a good side on the paddock each week I think we'll be competitive."

Gloucester will be part of the five team competition with Taree West, Wingham, Great Lakes and Old Bar following United's withdrawal.

The Bushmen's first game will be on Saturday at Gloucester District Park against reigning premiers Wingham.

While they're taking their game up a notch, training sessions are now mandatory.

Hometown boy: Harrison Clarke will captain Gloucester in the competition following a stint at Wingham's premier league side. Gloucester meets Wingham in the second grade season opener on Saturday.

Hometown boy: Harrison Clarke will captain Gloucester in the competition following a stint at Wingham's premier league side. Gloucester meets Wingham in the second grade season opener on Saturday.

"We've just started training which is something we really didn't do as much in the other competition," Higgins said. "We've had 10 to 12 players turn up each week so far."

In a huge boost to the side, hometown boy Harrison Clarke will play after turning out for Wingham's Premier League side last season.

"Harry's our best batsman in my opinion, he lives and breathes cricket," Higgins said.

Higgins is also a confirmed starter for the Bushmen and selected Clarke to lead the side.

"I like to give the young fellas a go," he said.

Fellow young gun Ryan Yates is also expected to join the side later in the season as he recovers from injuries sustained in the Newcastle and Hunter Rugby League competition.

Higgins said Yates will also play a big part in the Bushmen's push for a premier league spot. As reported in last Wednesday's Manning River Times, Mid North Coast Cricket Council rejected a bid by Gloucester to join the premier league this year due to concerns of competitiveness.

"It would be a big jump from their competition to the premier league,'' council president David Burley said.

The council will monitor their second grade performance this season to determine if a premier league berth is plausible.

If granted a premier league spot, Higgins indicated the club would also field a second or third grade side.

There's already a buzz around Gloucester.

"The town is already talking about it," Higgins said.

"We'll hopefully get a good crowd turn up when we're at home."

The final of the second grade competition will be played on March 14, 2020.

If enough interest is generated, a twilight T20 competition will run for those who miss out on the second grade squad.

This will be open for seniors and juniors aged 14 years and up.

Gloucester Bushmen 2019-20: Harrison Clarke (c), Mathew Higgins, Jye Barkwill, Brodie O'Brien, James Mcloud, Ben Reynolds, Ben Phillpot, Johny Cornelius, Ben Berry, Harrison Earl Broadley, Andrew Hughes, Jake Moulds, Josh Wilson, Kenny Wamsley, Brett Radford, Adam Cameron.