It's hoped one of the biggest summers of representative cricket Western Zone has seen will give the region's best players more opportunities while bringing others into the game.
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Western Zone president Mark Frecklington has confirmed a number of changes to the representative structure, with new competitions introduced and the regular schedule given a major shake-up.
The Western Zone Cup and a club knockout are new additions to the calendar for 2022-23.
The Western Zone Cup is a second-XI representative competition to run alongside the Western Zone Premier League. Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange and Parkes will feature in the Premier League, while the second sides from the three major western centres and potentially Cowra will contest the cup.
The knockout is set to go ahead in January and February and is open to any interested club from the Dubbo, Bathurst and Orange, Parkes or Cowra associations.
"That's about 20 clubs and so far 10 has replied and seven have said yes so we'll definitely be running it," Frecklington said.
"It's not confirmed yet but it will probably be a 40-over one-day competition. It will give guys an opportunity, particularly for those who don't or can't play rep.
"It mixes things up and gives them a taste of something different."
Dubbo CYMS - featuring the likes of former Australian Indigenous representatives Ben Patterson and Brock Larance - won last season's RSL Whitney Cup title while the winners of the Bathurst Orange Inter District Cricket competition was a St Pat's Old Boys side headlined by Bathurst stars Nic Broes, Cooper and Bailey Brien and Angus Parsons.
Hearing players talk about the quality of their respective club sides and discuss which would be the best while away on representative duty led to the idea of the knockout.
"I'm looking forward to it," Frecklington added.
"Players are just guaranteed one week of cricket and the winners go on. It would be nice to have all the strong clubs so we could say this really is the strongest club or champion club from the Zone.
"There's still interest. The guys talk about it when they go away and play Western Zone."
That's important in country areas, for players to have that opportunity to play some higher level cricket.- Mark Frecklington
The knockout will be played early in the New Year as the bulk of the Premier League and Cup competitions will be played in the first half of the season.
Playing those matches early not only opens up the calendar, it also gives selectors every opportunity possible to pick the very best Western Zone side for this summer's Country Championships.
"Over the years there's been some questions about the relevance of it," Frecklington said of the Premier League.
"It is a competition to determine the strongest association in Western Zone but often the games are after the Country Championships and people question the relevance of it.
"We're fortunate this year the Country Championships have been pushed back a little later than normal so we've got quite a bit of time at the start of the season to get the rounds in."
With Western being given the best chance to succeed at the Country Championships after a few lean summers at the top level and not competitions already creating interest, Frecklington said he's excited for what 2022/23 brings.
"I think it will be a good season and there's a lot of opportunity for people to get out and play rep cricket," Frecklington said.
"That's important in country areas, for players to have that opportunity to play some higher level cricket.
"Then the ones who want to go further, there's a pathway for them to try and get picked for Western Zone, NSW Country and the like and it's important for us to maintain that."
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