Sunbury United is set to make the most of the opportunity to return to the Gisborne and District Cricket Association’s McIntyre Cup.
United will be the 10th team in the top grade this season, after the GDCA announced that B-grade runners-up Wallan had declined the opportunity to be included in an expanded top grade.
The GDCA decided to have 10 team grades, up from eight which had been in place in previous seasons.
All eight teams which competed in last season’s McIntyre Cup will again be in that grade, along with United and promoted B-grade premiers Lancefield.
United president Chris Linton said the club had no hesitations of taking up the offer to return to the top grade after one season in B-grade. United finished third, before being knocked out of the finals by Lancefield.
“We’re really excited for the opportunity,” he said.
“We picked the wrong time to have a blip and went from premiers to being relegated the next year.
“We’re now going back up as fast. We didn’t think we were far away.”
Linton said he was confident that they would be able to match it with the other sides with most of the group having not only played, but been in successful McIntyre Cup sides.
“It’s why we’ve been so successful. We did lose James Hughes though [midway through last season], which was a big loss to the group, as he remains one of the best bowlers in the competition.
“The group has remained pretty tight and we’ve got quite a few young players coming through the twos who are pushing for a first spot.”
Linton said they would have a few former players returning, but were unlikely to have many new recruits. He admits with the late notice of being in the top grade the club is behind the eight ball with recruiting.
Steve Grey will coach the side for a second successive season. Linton said he was the perfect person for the role.
“He built us up 10 years ago and set us up for a lot of success,” he said.
“He’s creating a good culture and work ethic so it’s a pretty easy decision.”