Gloucester Bushmen could play in first grade in Manning Cricket competition in 2022

Harry Clark and the Gloucester Bushmen could be playing in the Manning first grade competition next season.
Harry Clark and the Gloucester Bushmen could be playing in the Manning first grade competition next season.

Gloucester Bushmen could play in a revamped Manning first grade cricket competition next summer.

The Bushmen have played second grade for the past two years. Gloucester was a semi-finalist in 2019/20 and was running fourth last season when the finals series was marred by continued wet weather.

Club officials have previously indicated Gloucester is keen to stay involved with Manning Cricket Association, although the Gloucester Advocate was unable to confirm if this is still the case before publication.

Next month's association annual meeting is expected to discuss the possibility of reverting to a first grade competition for the 2021/22 season. Manning Cricket has played second and third grades for the past three seasons. This followed the formation of the Mid North Coast Premier League in 2017/18.

The premier league takes in first grade sides from the Manning, Hastings and Macleay associations. Three Manning teams played in the first three years of the premier league. However, only one, Wingham, was involved last summer.

Six sides, including Gloucester, contested Manning second grade last year and Manning association president, Shane Nash expects there will be consideration to re-branding the competition to first grade for next season.

As has been the case with the other Mid North Coast associations, Manning previously had trouble getting enough sides for first grade. This was the driver for the start of the premier league.

The Manning first grade competition was then heavily dependent on Manning-based teams. Last season's second grade included Gloucester as well as Great Lakes, along with Wingham, Taree United, Taree West and Old Bar.

Mr Nash also believes Bulahdelah has the potential to eventually field a first grade side after the club has won two third grade premierships in four years.

Last season Gloucester's Jye Barkwill was third on the list of leading wicket takers in second grade. He finished with 21 wickets at 18.24.

Harry Clark was Gloucester's most prolific batsman, finishing with 174 runs at 21.75 to be eighth overall in the competition.