THE Barnawartha-Chiltern Cricket Club has gone into recess.
Only 48 hours before the start of the Cricket Albury-Wodonga district season, the Miners have been forced to withdraw their sides due to a lack of numbers.
Six players have applied for clearances to neighbouring club Howlong.
“It’s pretty terrible considering the size of the towns,” club official Chris Hartshorn said.
“We would have only had five players in A and B grade this week which isn’t good.
“Thankfully some of our players have been able to cross over to Howlong.”
Barnawartha-Chiltern fielded A and B grade and under-14 sides last season with all being forced into recess for 2017-18.
But Hartshorn said the Miners hadn’t given up hope of fighting back.
“We are going to try and get back up next year,” he said.
“We’re not done and dusted yet.
“We want to be a Barney-Chiltern identity still but if that doesn’t come off then we are forward thinking and working closely with Howlong.
“’Middo’ and the Howlong boys have been really good to us.”
Miners’ players Hartshorn, Murray Price, Carl Walton and Tom Noonan have been selected in Howlong’s A grade team to play Wodonga on Howlong on Saturday.
Coach Steve Keene took over as coach of Wodonga Raiders earlier this month.
Barnawartha and Chiltern merged almost 20 years ago and have been regular finalists since amalgamating.
Howlong spokesman Gerard Midson said he had concerns for the future of the district competition.
“It’s not a merger or a takeover,” Midson said.
“Chris and my major concern is that seven blokes don’t walk away from playing cricket.
“We are battling a little for numbers as well so it’s good to be able to work together.
“Cricket numbers are dying and I can see more and more of this type of thing happening in the future.”
Barnawartha-Chiltern’s departure has left a bye in the district draw.
“We understand the issues confronting small communities and we are working on a strategy to try and help them out,” CAW chairman Michael Erdeljac said.
“It’s good Barnawartha-Chiltern and Howlong have been able to work together.”