Promotion-relegation spices up South Coast cricket

CRICKET

South Coast cricket will enter a new era this season with a six-team premier division and promotion and relegation giving all clubs a shot at playing in the elite competition.

Last season's first-grade clubs The Rail and Gerringong/Jamberoo will step down to join a second-tier competition, while Gerringong and Jamberoo will return to stand-alone clubs after merging in first grade last season.

Premier division will feature the top six teams from last season - premiers Albion Park, Lake Illawarra, Oak Flats, Shellharbour, Kookas and Kiama.

The new competition was formally adopted at a South Coast association board meeting last week, with a further meeting held with individual clubs.

Premier division will include one and two-day games, plus Twenty20, with no Sunday cricket except for representative games.

South Coast association president Tony Panecasio admitted not all clubs were happy with the outcome but changes had to be made to improve the standard of cricket at the highest level.

"It was probably something that was a overdue. We've needed to improve the quality of cricket and this implementation is a step in that direction," he said.

While The Rail, Gerringong and Jamberoo take a step down in 2014-15 they can earn promotion to premier division the following season by finishing first or possibly second in first division.

Joining them in the six-team first division is a second team from Lakers, Oak Flats and Shellharbour.

Under the new competition structure the bottom team in premier division will be relegated to first division and minor premiers from first division promoted to the top tier.

Lake Illawarra, Oak Flats and Shellharbour cannot have two teams in the premier division, meaning if they do not finish last in the top level their first division side will not be promoted, even if they are minor premiers.

Gerringong, The Rail and Jamberoo will earn promotion if they are minor premiers in first division and could even finish second and move up.

"It gives The Rail, Gerringong and Jamberoo terrific incentive to win first division and guarantee themselves promotion, while no club in premier division would want to finish last," Panecasio said.

The new South Coast competition begins on Saturday, October 11.

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