Manning Cricket Association will run with second and third grade competitions again in the upcoming season.
Association president Shane Nash said there are no plans to change second grade into first grade, despite the fact many of the Manning's best cricketers look set to be involved. This follows the decision by Taree West and United to withdraw from the Mid North Coast Premier League.
Wingham is now the only Manning side in the premier league - a competition that takes in clubs from the Manning, Hastings and Macleay associations. As of last week five teams had nominated for the premier league.
This also means former premier league players from United and Taree West would be eligible to play second grade. Six sides, including United and Taree West, will contest second grade in 2020/21. Great Lakes, Wingham, Old Bar and Gloucester have also nominated. Gloucester joined the Manning competition for the first time last summer.
"The premier league will still go ahead,'' Mr Nash said.
"So we'll be playing second and third grade. We won't be changing that.''
There hasn't been a first grade competition in the Manning side the premier league started in 2017/18.
Mr Nash agreed that this season's second grade has the potential to be of a higher standard than in recent years.
"But I don't think that's a reason to change it to first grade,'' he said.
He believes some promising young players who turned out for Taree West in the premier league last season would benefit from playing second grade this year.
"Young fellas like Josh Jones and Lachie Brown now have the opportunity to shine in second grade and maybe return to the premier league in a couple of seasons,'' he said.
Mr Nash said the decision by the two clubs to withdraw from the premier league was more a reflection of the times.
"A lot of the older players are sick of the travel - they run their own businesses or have to work on Saturdays or they have young families,'' he said.
"And there's still a lot of uncertainty about covid. Players would be happier to stay close to home.''
Meanwhile, Pacific Palms returns to Manning cricket next summer for the first time in 30 years, with the club nominating a side for the third grade competition.
Eleven clubs, three up on last season, will contest the third grade competition starting on October 10.
Association president Shane Nash said clubs from Pacific Palms, Bulahdelah and Gloucester now play in the Manning competitions. Gloucester linked with Manning Cricket last season and play in the second grade.
He said cricket's comeback in Harrington continues.
"We made the decision at Old Bar last season to help get cricket started at Harrington,'' Mr Nash said.
Old Bar-Harrington now play in third grade, along with a stand-lone Old Bar side.
He said cricket nets funded with the help of Cricket NSW are now established at Harrington.
Harrington will also enter a side in this season's Manning junior competition.
This is part of the plan to rejuvenate cricket in the Lower Manning area.
"The club will have a team in the youngest age division - under 10s - but it's a start,'' Manning Cricket president Shane Nash said.
"They can build from there.''
Manning senior cricket will start on October 10.