By Shane Jones
The Bundaberg Cricket Association is making sure youth is the future and the focus when it comes to the Aussie Bundy Big Bash.
The competition is returning for a fourth year with all four franchises back – Takalvans Taipans, Searle’s RV Vikings, Betta Heat and Headlands Pies.
But there will be plenty of changes as the BCA looks to build on the first three years and continue to innovate and expand for the future.
Among the changes are including more juniors in the competition.
Each team will be required to pick a minimum of three juniors in their 15-player squad with at least two to play each game during the season.
The juniors need to be over the age of 14 and will be put into a young-gun auction, which will run before the main auction so teams pick the juniors first.
“Anyone under 18 will be part of the draft,” BCA treasurer and organiser Shaun Rose said.
“The thing is young kids are not well known, so by taking them out of the original and giving all franchises their history it gives them a better chance to be picked.
“It’s about putting them in a squad and getting them engaged.
“Two must play every game so it will help with their development and allow them to come out of their shells.”
The draft for the competition will be held next Friday 24 September, with nominations for the season closing on 22 September.
Nomination fees are zero for those who want to compete.
The competition will start on 9 October and end on 18 December, with Saturday matches to start and end the season.
All other matches, during the season, will remain on the Friday night.
Some rules, as mentioned above, could be tinkered as well .
“We did it for a couple of reasons, for starters all the franchises and players felt the Christmas break was too big of a gap,” Rose said.
“It’s been six weeks previously and there’s been disengagement and hard to get back into it.
“By getting it all done before Christmas, everyone can focus on that for the two months.”
Rose added the Saturday move was to create a major start to the year and create a grand final to end the first part of the year before Christmas.
“The two events, the two Saturdays, we’ll have all four teams playing on the first day,” he said.
“Then in the final, we’ll have the spoon final and then the main final and the teams are looking to have their corporate days on the day.
“We’ll have face painters, crowd catchers and try to build up the day and attract the market.
“All games are free entry.”
The competition will also be looking to use the new lights being built at Salter Oval, which could be finished before the season is over.
There will also be new playing strips for each team, while clubs can still retain some players from the previous year.
But the more players they retain, the less salary cap money each club will receive in the auction to complete their squad.
The BCA is also looking to help those play from outside of the area, with players more than 75km away from Salter Oval able to nominate together with another player in a similar position, and one club can pick up both players.
This is created to make sure players who travel to Bundaberg can travel together.
To nominate, head to www.facebook.com/bundycricket.