Junior Eagles Paving The Way

The Vermont Cricket Club has had plenty of success recently, and that’s in part due to their successful junior program.

By Josh Ward

It’ll have high numbers yet again this year, with President Brendan Cleary telling bhrdca.com.au that Vermont legends Danny White, Brad Cullen and Bradd Taylor will also continue to coach the juniors. He’s particularly impressed with the work Taylor has put into his side.

“He coached the U12’s to a flag last year and he’s a fantastic man because he never gets upset, doesn’t get out of first gear, shows them how to bat, shows them how to bowl, teaches them cricket the right way and in the right spirit too.”

Part of the reason it’s been so successful is because of Vermont being a young families suburb and terrific job that ex-junior coordinator Steve Bissett did.

“As well as having the up and coming suburb, it’s also the fact that Steve Bissett was pretty relentless with another bloke about five years ago called Reece Wallace.”

Bissett has been replaced by Jason Retchford, with Retchford having been by Bissett’s side the last few years and bringing many benefits along.

“Retch’s enthusiasm is one of his key aspects and he’s worked closely with Steve for the last couple of years so he’ll just carry on the good work and hopefully keep it going.”

The last two years have had its problems due to COVID, however Cleary said that once COVID safe protocols and now vaccines have been administered, parents are signing up their children left, right and centre to play at Vermont.

“When everyone’s up to speed and it’s all working properly they’re more than happy for their kids to be playing sport, that’s what it’s all about, and we encourage it, it’s fantastic.”

“​​You get 150 kids cycling them through like we do, I think it’s a pretty awesome effort”.

They had a lot of players and sides last season, including three at the U16 level, with the ones making the semi finals in the RDCA U16-1 competition.

Some of those players played a bit at senior level in 2020/21, including in the thirds premiership.

“Our thirds last year the average age was about 18, and there was only one old player, Mick McMahon, he ended up captaining the side last year, he bumped it up because he’s about 45 or something so I think he bumped up the average a bit.

And whilst they retained most of them, Oliver Horlock has moved on to Premier Cricket at Ringwood, with Cleary happy to let these players go so they can pursue their dream of playing at a higher level.

“These boys are moving up through the ranks, and we encourage that and it’s great to see them play there so hopefully one day they’ll come back and put back into our club.”

In the seniors they’ve got a couple of recruits this year, with Trent Fitzgerald and Ben Gibson returning, as well as bringing in East Burwood duo Tharanga Jayawardhane and Weranga Bulathwala.

However, despite the signing of the spinner Jayawardhane, Cleary believes that Zane Gelsi will lead the way in the spinning department.

“He’s that keen on cricket he was devastated when he couldn’t keep training due to COVID. He loves the game; he’d play it every day of the week.”

They’ve also got a couple of new sponsors along, including Vermont Pizzeria, and Cleary has been thankful of their support the last few years.

“We’re very lucky with the sponsorship of the past players, we wouldn’t be able to operate with so many people without the input from these guys, they’re just magnificent.

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