Premier side hit for six

By Jared Smith

The latest saga in Wanganui cricket has seen the association's board overrule its Council of Clubs' decision to sanction a new star-studded Premier 1 squad.

Meanwhile, a disappointed Tech Old Boys have accepted the decision but vowed they will convince the board to let them have a team next season.

In an interview with Wanganui cricket chairman Stuart Gill and board member Danny Jonas yesterday, it emerged that they did not know the new Tech team, which was to feature a host of young representative-level players, had been raised to play in the new Premier League for the rest of the summer.

The first time they were made aware of this was when reading the January 18 article on Tech in the Wanganui Chronicle.

The board has ruled that Wanganui High School First XI, which was dropping down to play Premier 2 while its star players joined Tech, must return to the top-flight competition.

"We had a special meeting last Tuesday," said Gill. "It is in the best interests of Wanganui cricket that Wanganui High School remain in Premier 1."

Gill said the Council of Clubs, which was reformed this season to run the club competitions, did not have the authority to grant Tech that berth at their January meeting.

The board had received emails from their shareholders namely the other clubs concerned about player defections to the new team. Under the rules, players were financed with their original club to start a season and any moves would have to be approved by the board, Gill said.

"It's very much the same as other districts and codes you can't change clubs mid-season."

He said Wanganui cricket was not trying to "slash" Tech Old Boys, but the addition of a new Premier 1 team would need to be approved before the season had already begun.

"It wasn't about what was being proposed, what's important is what's best for Wanganui cricket."

A meeting was scheduled for last night between board members, council members and Wanganui club chairmen.

"It's not to have a go at anybody, just to explore where things are," Gill said.

Tech spokesman Simon Aitken said he and club captain Jack Judd were attending and were happy to "fall in line" with what the board wanted.

"Essentially, they want due process the name as such [of the Premier 1 team] will be High School going forward.

"We have club goals which are no different from what they were two weeks ago."

Aitken said they were willing to go through a "more robust process" than any other club to get their team sanctioned by the board.

"It would be hard to believe [they wouldn't] if we get our model by the time the season's out, Wanganui cricket will see we will be a great addition to the Premier 1 roster."

Despite the rumblings about who had authority to do what, Jonas said the council members were on a "learning curve". "Sure, there's been some hiccups, but it's been positive [having the council]. If High School lose their First XI from that competition, it's going to be a long time to get back in."

Andrew Lock, both a council member and one of those behind the WHS/Tech concept, said he was "very disappointed".

"But it's the board's decision, out of my control."

Like Aitken, he could see no reason why Tech could not get the team set up next season and for now, those players would return to the WHS fold.

"What's in a name? It's the same guys. It's simple stuff. At the end of the day we've get to keep these guys in a higher club level. We'll get it set over the winter."

Gill said they would consider the Tech proposal for next season on its merits and there would not be a bias because of current events.

He would like to see a "2-3 year model" for what the club had in mind.

Tech's WHS players are expected to return to their school team, while the former Collegiate players may join another club side. WHS will take over the Tech matches in the current Premier League draw.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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