Cricket Victoria redundancies deal ‘significant blow’ to regional clubs

Australia World

Cricket Victoria’s job cuts in rural Victoria could make it harder for junior talent to progress in the game, regional associations have warned.

Earlier this month Cricket Victoria announced a restructure driven by “economic uncertainty” caused by the coronavirus would lead to job losses within the organisation.

The full details of the restructure are yet to be publicly released.

But cricket associations in western Victoria have confirmed two Cricket Victoria representatives in each of the Western Waves and Mallee Murray regions were among those losing their jobs.

The positions being made redundant include cricket managers, a role that organises junior competitions and liaises with local government, and participation officers, who run school programs and Woolworths Cricket Blast competitions.

Ben Duxson, the president of the Wimmera-Mallee Cricket Association and the Western Waves region, said the job cuts would have a huge impact on community cricket.

“Our grassroots level is where cricket comes from — if we don’t have them [Cricket Victoria representatives] out in the regions and doing their jobs in the schools with pathway projects and that sort of stuff it’s going to be a significant blow to cricket within our region,” he said.

A Cricket Victoria coaching specialist with more than two decades of experience was also being made redundant, Mr Duxson said.

“So we’re losing quality people out of the region and it’s really short-sighted of Cricket Victoria to do this,” he said.

Fewer pathways for regional players

There were fears the state’s governing body having a smaller presence in the regions could make it harder for junior talent to progress in the game.

Sunraysia Cricket Association president Andrew Farlie said Cricket Victoria’s regional contacts helped connect players and coaches with opportunities beyond the grassroots level.

“Once you lose that link it becomes very hard to try and progress through the game and it becomes a bit of a ‘who you know, not what you know’ type scenario, which was the case back in the 90s,” he said.

“So we certainly hope we don’t get back to that stage but early talk is that it’s going to have a big impact, especially with the players that are a long way away from the central cricket hub in Melbourne.”

Sunraysia’s cricket association is considering competing in South Australia’s country championships instead of Victoria’s if it means better opportunities for junior players.

Mr Farlie said if some kind of elite-level coaching or development was not retained in the regions it could create a gap between who could access it in Melbourne and who could not.

“It becomes a case, and you can see it’s happened a lot in the English system, where cricket’s become very much a private school type thing where if you’ve got the money you can make your way in the sport,” he said.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point … we’re going to be looking at ways that we can get our kids to have the best opportunity to go and play cricket for Australia.”

Cricket Victoria did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

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