Muswellbrook Souths rejoin ranks as town prepares for 2019/20 cricket season

GREAT SPELL: Brook club president Peter Cooper is looking forward to a 2019/20 cricket season full of change.
GREAT SPELL: Brook club president Peter Cooper is looking forward to a 2019/20 cricket season full of change.

THE president of the Upper Hunter District Cricket Association (UHDCA) recently said the region was bucking the trend to actually improve their numbers for the upcoming season, and Muswellbrook is the best example of that.

After rejoining the UHDCA last year after leaving the Singleton competition, both Brook sides struggled in terms of results but admitted to enjoying their cricket a lot more.

The switch also allowed them to blood some more youngsters, such as Brook Blue's Andy Cooper and Silver's Cooper Gageler.

However, the 2019/20 campaign will have a story of its own, with the return of Muswellbrook Souths Cricket Club.

Having folded due to a lack of numbers half way through 2017/18 season, the club has picked itself back up and will now feature as the third local side in the competition.

With the first matches set to be played this Saturday, the new squad will take on Brook Blue at Weeraman Fields in a true local derby.

Even though they don't fly under the same banner, Brooks club president, Peter Cooper, said he was pleased to have a third team in town.

"Having three in Muswellbrook is good to see, to have some new players down here in town and get the sport of cricket pumping away again," he said.

"Getting cricket in Muswellbrook and in the Upper Hunter going again certainly brought a lot of people back to play.

"It brought the enjoyment back and everybody is willing and keen to roll up and have a go."

Up-and-coming juniors are amongst the most enthusiastic players ahead of the new season.

And Cooper said giving experience and exposure to the younger group is a key pillar of what they're trying to to at the club.

"We brought probably three or four of our juniors through last year, this time we'll bring through another two or three," he said.

"There's a bunch of kids around that 14 to 15 age group that are coming through this year so hopefully I can try and get all of them coming through."

While the addition of Muswellbrook Souths will be a big change locally, a difference in rules for the entire competition will take place this year too.

It was recently revealed that the association will trial an 'active 12th man', which will allow a team to use an extra player, so long as they have a bowler who doesn't bat and a batter that doesn't bowl.

Cooper revealed he was actually that catalyst for that change being made.

"To be perfectly honest, if you're 12th man on a day of cricket and all you're going to do is field it's pretty boring," he said.

"It's a hot summer sport and if you've got someone there you can run on and off it's great.

"And if you've got them there and they know they'll have a bat or a bowl and be involved in the game, it gives you more of an opportunity."

Shift workers were also a key reason for the rule alteration, with a number of players throughout the competition only being able to take part in half a match.