The Glenavy Cricket Club is making the step up to senior cricket this season.
The 2018-19 senior reserve champion will be playing in the top grade after a revamp of the North Otago cricket competition.
With the addition of Glenavy, and St Kevin’s College branching out on its own, there will be seven teams in this season’s senior competition.
Glenavy Cricket Club president Ross McCulloch said after the dissolution of the senior reserve grade, the club was faced with going up or joining the South Canterbury competition.
They had decided to “give it a crack” in the top grade.
Most of the team’s players were farmers and, as summer was a busy time of year, it was hard for some players to commit to games each week.
However, McCulloch said there were 10 “fully committed” players, and plenty of others to call in for the odd game.
The Glenavy Cricket Club was reformed five years ago after a period of 15 years without a team.
McCulloch and the late Marshall Smith had mustered up some local players who enjoyed the game.
More than half the team had been there from day one, he said.
“More than just the cricket, it is the camaraderie.
“We are pretty social, but I suppose once the pressure comes on we are going to have to step our game up a wee bit. It will be good, it will be something different. If it doesn’t work out, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”
The club was waiting to hear from North Otago Cricket if it could be loaned the services of an overseas player.
The Glenavy Cricket Ground, or GCG as it is known to locals, underwent a renovation last year, including two new cricket nets and the repair of the infamous “Glenavy dip” on the artificial wicket.
McCulloch, who fronts a weekly pitch report for the club on Facebook which has gained a cult following, said the new pitch would not hold many secrets.
“There used to be a bit of a dip in the northeast corner and if you knew where it was the ball would either go around your head or stay round your ankles.
“It took a while for the other teams to realise where it was, but we could pinpoint it because we would practise on it every Wednesday.”
McCulloch said Luke McRae and Kurt Thomas would be players to watch this season, although he hoped “all the boys would pull finger, to be honest”.
“[McRae] is quite handy with the ball. He can be a wee bit wild, but if he manages to control it, he will be right.
“Kurt Thomas is a young builder who played for Waitaki Boys’ First XI who can bat a bit.”
Playing games at the GCG would provide something a little different for the “townies”, he said.
“They are used to the grass wicket in town where it all looks picture-perfect.
“They get to Glenavy and the sheep have been chased off the morning of the game and the mowers run around to wipe up the sheep s***.
“Afterwards we have a few beers and a barbecue.”
North Otago Cricket chairman Peter Cameron said he was “rapt” Glenavy was making the step up to the next grade.
“It makes a difference that a team can have a bye every six weeks.
“Glenavy have won the senior reserve the past few years so it is good that they will compete in the senior competition.”