Cougars set to claw back

Clyde player-coach Matt Aslett. 202489 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Lance Jenkinson

The extra wait brought upon by Melbourne’s Covid-19 lockdown will be excruciating for the Clyde Cougars.

The Cougars desperately want a start date locked in for the West Gippsland Cricket Association season so they can begin plotting their atonement for last year’s disappointing semi-final exit at the hands of Kooweerup.

Cougars president Paul Duyvestyn can already sense a restlessness among the players.

“The guys have got that hunger in them and that disappointment from last season,” he said.

“They know they can match it with the best, and knowing they can do that and the hunger they’ve got, hopefully they can go to the next level.”

Once the State Government gives the green light for a return, local cricket will likely look a bit different to its pre-Covid existence.

Cricket Victoria will eventually issue guidelines on how to safely play cricket in a Covid environment.

The biggest on-field change likely to be in place is how the ball is treated by the players.

Duyvestyn expects no sweat or saliva to be allowed on the ball to ensure a safe environment for the players.

“The ball might age a bit quicker [without shine applied], but it’s not going to advantage anyone in particular if both teams have to do the same,” he said.

“It might come down to people breaking the habits that they’re used to.

“Otherwise cricket is fairly non-contact.

“Very rarely is anyone on the field within one and a half metres of each other, so there’s no reason why it can’t come back once restrictions ease.”

Early indications are that Clyde’s playing numbers will not take a hit.

The Cougars have retained their senior core and many juniors have registered through the club’s website.

There has been the bonus of strong interest from new people just arriving in the area who are keen to play.

“With Covid, I’m not expecting any growth in numbers, but I’m confident of having the same numbers as last year at least,” Duyvestyn said.

“It’s been a matter of putting it out there on social media and I’ve sent emails out to both junior and senior levels keeping them up to date as much as possible.

“We started online registrations to try and get interest there and I found a lot of returning juniors jumped on straight away to register again.

“I’m getting a lot of guys from the senior playing group who are champing at the bit to get out there.

“We’re trying to work out ways we can train together in groups of two once these restrictions are eased.”

Clyde’s focus will now shift to female participation.

The Cougars are keen to establish a junior girls team in the 10-15 age group, preferably this summer.

There are some junior Cougars girls players, but they are currently in mixed teams and have no pathway within the club, so Duyvestyn wants to change that.

“We’ve got a few girls who have been playing amongst the boys, which is a great foundation, but we want to form a full girls team,” he said.

“The easiest way to go about it is to get the first girls team in and grow from there.

“As they get older, they can potentially form the first women’s team.”

With Clyde Recreation Reserve set to be transformed through a $3 million State Government boost, Duyvestyn wants his club to grow and be all-inclusive.

“We want to grow and become a community club,” he said.

“We want to involve as many people as possible.”

Anyone interested in joining the Clyde Cougars should contact Paul Duyvestyn on 0401 380 101.