Gloucester Bushmen tipped to play first grade in the Manning cricket competition next season

Gloucester batsmen Matthew Higgins and Harry Clarke cross for a single during a second grade game at Wingham last yera.
Gloucester batsmen Matthew Higgins and Harry Clarke cross for a single during a second grade game at Wingham last yera.

It looks almost certain that Gloucester will be playing first grade cricket in the Manning association next summer.

This follows comments by newly elected president Michael Steinmetz.

Mr Steinmetz, from Taree, took on the position last week. He said he is keen to seen a first grade competition in place next season. This would probably involve six sides, including Gloucester.

Manning Cricket dropped first grade when the Mid North Coast Premier League started in 2017/18. This involved first grade teams from the Manning, Hastings and Macleay Associations and originally Taree United. Taree West and Wingham were involved. However, Taree United and Taree West dropped out last season and the premier league was only contested by five teams. Neither United or Taree West have any plans to return to the premier league.

Manning continued with second and third grade competition last season, however, Mr Steinmetz said this will be reviewed.

"I'll be speaking to the Wingham president as soon as possible to see if the club will be applying to play in the premier league,'' he said.

However, regardless, Mr Steinmetz hopes to see a return to first grade next summer. He understands all six clubs that contested last season's second grade, would be nominating.

This would include premiers Great Lakes and Gloucester, the Bushmen joining the Manning competition two years ago. Wingham finished last in second grade last season, but if the club doesn't play premier league, Mr Steinmetz expects Wingham would be a title contender in a revamped first grade premiership.

He said the association would also look at playing some two-day games as part of a first grade competition. "There's a few diehards who want a return to two-day games,'' he said.

Two-day cricket has been usurped by 40 over games in the Manning association.

"There's others who prefer T20 games, so it will be our job to get a balance,'' he said.

Mr Steinmetz added he'll also speak to the Mid North Coast Cricket Council about resurrecting inter-district First XI, under 19s and over 35 games featuring association representative teams.