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GVBBL forced to postpone third edition

Game off: The decision has been made to postpone Goulburn Valley Bush Bash League three. Pictured is CPW Panthers wicketkeeper Ben Fulford. Photo by Megan Fisher

Goulburn Valley Bush Bash League executives and franchise owners made the decision to postpone the third edition of the showcase T20 tournament on Wednesday night due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

This decision comes after Cricket Shepparton announced earlier in the week that it would resume its season for all grades this weekend, with new protocols dictating that COVID-affected A and B-grade matches be postponed to reserve days in February and March, some of which may land on a Sunday.

The GVBBL has been a raging success in its brief two-year history, with the franchise model being the first of its kind in regional Victoria and attracting big names to country cricket.

GVBBL organiser and Cricket Shepparton president David D’Elia said after carefully evaluating its options there was simply no choice but to postpone the tournament.

“It is very disappointing, but there wasn’t a lot we could do,” D’Elia said.

“We just ran out of time to reschedule, we were left with the situation of getting four games fit into the four available weeks and we had one team have 10 or 11 of their 14 players already have COVID and another only had one, so there was a great unknown into player availability.

“We were also running out of Sundays to run it on, given other associations such as Bendigo and Goulburn Murray had scheduled games for Sundays and Cricket Shepparton is now looking at rescheduling COVID-affected games to Sundays as well, so it was all going to impact the bush bash.”

Along with the scheduling headaches that faced the league’s organising committee, D’Elia pointed to two other factors that made the tournament no longer viable to run.

“The marquees and players from other areas also had a bit of hesitancy in travelling up here to compete in the tournament,” he said.

“We also had an expectation that we would attract large crowds to these games, but with the current COVID situation it became clear that might not be the case, which then makes it hard for the clubs to recoup their money through the running of the bar and things like that on the day.

“In the end it all just got far too difficult to arrange.”

While locals will not be able to go out and support their franchise on the bush bash stage this cricket season, D’Elia ensured that the tournament was postponed and not cancelled, with the third edition potentially set to kick off earlier than usual next summer.

“It is definitely postponed and will be back again next year as GVBBL three, all the owners are really committing to the idea of next year being the start of a new three-year plan for the tournament with ideas already being floated for editions four and five,” he said.

“We are hoping to run one round prior to Christmas and two after Christmas, that is the intention at the moment, and we will work towards that.”

This result serves as a major blow for all those that have put time and money into making such a fantastic cricket spectacle possible.

Despite the setback, D’Elia said he had complete confidence that the GVBBL would be back bigger than ever in 2022-23.

“Knowing the quality of the people behind each of the franchises and the major sponsor Crane Aid I have absolute faith we will be back better than ever next year,” he said.