(L-R) Steve Smith and David Warner could face off in the CA sponsored T20 tournament.
(L-R) Steve Smith and David Warner could face off in the CA sponsored T20 tournament.

Have CA opened door for Warner and Smith?

CRICKET Australia hope a new national Twenty20 championship featuring the country's best premier cricket sides can help reconnect elite players to the grade game.

March's inaugural tournament, to be played in Adelaide, will feature winners of each state and territory's Premier T20 league in a two-day carnival as well as a second team from NSW and Victoria.

David Warner's Northern Territory side the City Cyclones have already qualified, potentially paving the way for the suspended opener to play in the CA-sanctioned event, while Steve Smith is also playing in Sydney.

The health of grade cricket and the disconnect between it and higher levels of the game was a key component of last week's Longstaff review into the state of the game in the country.

 

 

David Warner during the Men's Strike League match between the Desert Blaze and the City Cyclones at Marrara Cricket Ground in Darwin. Picture: AAP Image
David Warner during the Men's Strike League match between the Desert Blaze and the City Cyclones at Marrara Cricket Ground in Darwin. Picture: AAP Image

 

"Ultimately for the health of the game you need premier cricket strong," CA's pathways manager and one-time Test wicketkeeper Graham Manou told AAP. "You talk to a lot of past players and obviously current players, premier cricket is something that is held quite dear to them."

CA is also hopeful the competition can help return a number of former domestic players back to their club sides for the local T20 tournaments.

 

Steve Smith signs autographs for kids during a T20 game between Manly and Sutherland. Picture: Jenny Evans
Steve Smith signs autographs for kids during a T20 game between Manly and Sutherland. Picture: Jenny Evans

 

Each state has already had its own T20 league for much of the past decade. A key recommendation of the Longstaff review centred on ensuring elite players return to play at least one grade game per summer in a bid to help the development of up-and-coming youngsters and their own grounding.

While players of previous eras were more available to grade cricket, the cluttered schedule at both an international and domestic level has made that a far rarer occurrence in recent years.

"That was one of the main drivers of the national championship, it was to work with the states to ... allow clubs and players a period of time through December and January to put their hands up and re-engage," Manou said. "We've seen some great numbers of past players come back through the Australian Cricketers' Association's past player program.

"This is another opportunity that opens the door for perhaps some older guys who have retired from first-class cricket and have got other responsibilities now."

 

 

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