Benalla’s two largest cricket clubs have merged in an effort to regrow the sport locally.
Benalla Violet Town United Cricket Club has joined the Benalla Bushrangers Cricket Club after officials at BVTU realised there were not enough members to field a team this year.
Former BVTU A-grade captain Rob Saker said with a number of last year’s key players out injured through the footy season or otherwise, he felt the club had no choice but to merge with a larger club.
‘‘With guys out it was going to be a struggle, and we decided to come to (the Bushies) and they were quite receptive,’’ Saker said.
‘‘Our lack of numbers kind of forced our hand.
‘‘Now we’re all playing for the same club we’ll have both sides gunning for the same goal.
‘‘As long as people are willing to put in the work, we have the base for a really good local club.’’
The club will be known as the Benalla Bushrangers and will remain in the Wangaratta and District Cricket Association this year.
Saker said the merger was an effort to keep as many locals in the game as possible.
‘‘I think both clubs were struggling for numbers a bit, or certain sides, anyway,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a club meeting a month ago and put it out there saying that it would be a tough year if we didn’t change anything.
‘‘My dad (Trevor Saker) is fairly influential over there with them, so (former BVTU president) Simon Holmes and him approached the Bushies on our behalf.’’
Bushies president Steve McCallum said the participation rates in Benalla had been dropping for a number of years, but he was confident it could be rectified.
‘‘This is us saying let’s have one strong club (in Benalla) instead of two slightly weaker clubs,’’ McCallum said.
‘‘We’re focusing on the juniors and their development.
‘‘Our success this year will be measured on the junior sides.’’
The senior cricket season begins for the Bushies on the weekend of October 7 and 8.
Outdoor training sessions are being held at the Gardens Oval nets on Saturday mornings from 10am and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5pm.
Junior registrations for the coming season are being held at Sportspower Benalla tomorrow from 5pm to 7pm.