New Greater Illawarra Zone coach Grant Tilling is confident he will steer a united squad at this summer's Country Championships.
The South Coast president led the team in the first two years of the Zone's existence before he was replaced by Dean Merola last summer.
Tilling regained his role as coach at the recent Greater Illawarra annual general meeting. With the Zone hosting this year's Country Championships, the coach is confident the side can return to the final.
"My goal is to put us back at the forefront of country cricket," Tilling said.
"We lost a little bit of ground last year, we won one game out of three, the year before we made the final.
"The first step is to put a competitive team on the park then focus on the final if we get there."
Tilling's appointment has left many within the cricketing community frustrated at the way the situation was handled.
Merola and assistant Steve Nikitaras were appointed 12 months ago with a vision to establish a platform for long-term success.
The pair were disappointed with the team's performance last year, Greater Illawarra finishing third in the Southern Pool. They were, however, confident the foundation had been set for better results this summer.
With each association holding two votes in the decision to choose the coach, it's understood Illawarra and South Coast backed Tilling, while Shoalhaven and Highlands supported Merola.
The voting process has come under criticism, with Shoalhaven only submitting one vote after the second delegate experienced technical difficulties and was unable to join the Zoom meeting.
Additionally, Tilling was one of the two South Coast delegates to vote, as was permitted under the rules.
Merola was disappointed with the decision, the coach frustrated at having his tenure cut short before he could achieve his goals.
"Niko and I put a lot of structures in place last year," Merola said. "We got the support of all players in the region, not just Illawarra. To have that turned upside down, doesn't sit well.
"Some of the boys have contacted me and said they don't want to play rep cricket because of what has happened. I want to get back to the days of Illawarra being a powerhouse, this situation has set us backwards."
The Country Championships are slated to be held on November 19-21, however that could change pending coronavirus restrictions.
Tilling is confident he can build on the platform Merola and Nikitaras established, the new coach eager to see the region's best players put their hands up to represent Greater Illawarra.
Should that be the case, Tilling sees no reason why the team can't vie for the Country Championships title each year.
"We want to stay at the top as long as we possibly can," Tilling said. "We've got some very good players around the district who have a lot of skills and knowledge.
"The next step is to stay in touch year-round and have the odd training session and get-together to mould a team."