OFF the back of his week-long tour of the Burnett earlier this month, Wide Bay & Sunshine Coast regional development manager Sam Curtis is confident junior cricket is back on track.
"Everything went really well - from every school we visited in the South Burnett through to Central and North (Burnett) there was fantastic feedback,” Curtis said.
"We could see potential cricketers at every school we went to.”
It was Curtis' first time in the Burnett, and coming from a regional area in New Zealand he knows first-hand the challenges communities face in running effective junior programs.
"From the conversations I had (with people in the Burnett) they're spending time thinking about what's best for the kids, and to me if people are doing that it means they actually care,” Curtis said.
"That's what you get, especially in the country regions - everyone seems to band together a bit more as a community, and I really felt that was the case when I was out there.
"Those who are looking after the game seem really proactive, and what I'd love to do is now align them with the new Cricket Australia formats.”
One such Cricket Australia program - and the crux of Curtis' visit - was the MILO T20 Blast model, set to begin in the South Burnett in Terms 3 and 4 this year.
Schools will play against each other, progressing from the Burnett to Wide Bay and then on to a state carnival.
The program prioritises school engagement first, before moving to link kids with clubs once the school competition finishes.
"We're riding high on this Big Bash wave at the moment - kids are taking cricket bats to school which hasn't happened for quite a few years,” Curtis said.
"Kids enjoy the game at school and we can then link them with clubs.”
Curtis hopes to have an eight-week, school-based Milo T20 Blast competition up and running by Term 4 this year.
"I know it seems a long way off now, but if we're not effective with our planning it won't work, and this gives everyone plenty of time to prepare,” Curtis said.
With numbers down in recent years, junior cricket appears ready for a renaissance in the South Burnett.
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