Central West Wranglers skipper Jameel Qureshi says country cricketers have every right to feel insulted after the Plan B Regional Bash finals were moved from the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The first three instalments of the Country Cricket NSW Twenty20 competition have been capped with semi-finals and a grand final at the SCG, but this summer those games will be staged at North Sydney Oval.
Cricket NSW confirmed the move on Tuesday morning, the rescheduling a forced squeeze after the closure of the next-door Allianz Stadium resulted in a backlog of fixtures needing to be played at the Moore Park precinct.
The SCG Trust determines what is played at Australia's oldest sporting stadium, with Cricket NSW just one of a handful of tenants that requires use of the ground.
Cricket NSW says it worked for months to try and fit the Regional Bash finals into the SCG’s packed calendar, but a date couldn’t be found.
The original SCG finals date was December 2, but that was postponed in November. The new finals date is February 17, with the games to be played at North Sydney Oval.
Qureshi, though, was livid the NSW Premier Cricket Twenty20 Cup finals, a short-form competition for Sydney grade cricketers, weren’t also pushed off the SCG.
Those games will be played on Sunday, December 16, in an identical format to the planned Regional Bash finals.
[North Sydney is] a beautiful ground … but nothing compares to the SCG. I find it a bit insulting.Wranglers skipper Jameel Qureshi
Qureshi feels like country cricket is being kicked to the curb.
“Essentially it’s like telling your kids at Christmas they’re going to get a motorbike and then they wake up and there’s a push bike with no wheels under the tree,” Qureshi said.
“How could you be happy?
“Next year … all [our] great young players will be picked up by Sydney clubs. What do we get in return? A trip to North Sydney … it’s take, take, take.”
NSW Country Cricket country programs managers Bruce Whitehouse also said he was happy the finals were being played at North Sydney Oval.
Qureshi says he’ll likely reconsider playing in next year’s Regional Bash.
“It’s a beautiful ground, don’t get me wrong … but nothing compares to the SCG. I find it a bit insulting,” Qureshi said.
“We’ve got young guys who were getting a chance … can you imagine how proud their parents would have been?
“We would play on a sixth-day wicket after a Test match, the day after a Big Bash game … anytime. Surely they could have found a date.”
The date that has been finalised, February 17, is also the date for the Western Zone Premier League final.
Both Bathurst and Orange, two sides that feed the Wranglers, are in contention to play in that decider. All four finals-bound franchises – Central West, Coffs Coast, ACT and Central Coast – are first-time pool winners, meaning this year’s finals would have been their first chance to play at the SCG.