Melbourne’s oldest Heatherton Cricket Club looking for new innings

By Indira Laisram

Just like there can be no winter without footy in Australia, there can be no summer without cricket. And although 2020 has been a spoiled calendar for many sporting events, one club is trying its best to make up for time lost.

The Heatherton Cricket Club, located in Melbourne’s south east, is all set to redeem its stature as one of the oldest local grassroots cricket clubs in Victoria and gain traction with a new leadership, new vision and new team members.

To go back to the club’s history, Heatherton has existed for more than a century and “was originally known as Kingstown and later Kingston, its name came from the covering of bush which graced the area in the mid-1800s when European settlers and particularly the King brothers acquired and grazed the land in 1846”.

This history is documented in the Kingston Local History, City of Kingston website, which talks about how Kingston then later developed a ‘Recreation Reserve’ for sporting activities. The oval provided opportunities for playing cricket and a black and white photo with the caption of a certain Ray Tilley batting on the Heatherton Recreation Reserve in 1920 indicates the early records of the club.

In September 2004, the Deed of agreement between Kingston Council and Trustees of the reserve reflected the wish of the trustees that the land could never be sold and that it be used for recreational, educational and charitable purposes, according to the club’s officials.

Cut to the present. The Heatherton Cricket Club is a member of the Cricket Southern Bayside League, Cricket Victoria’s own premier competition, with a reputable existence in a number of Victoria’s leading cricket competitions.

Nitin Gupta

Nitin Gupta, who took over as the club president this April, says while the club has had its ups and downs over the years, it is now focussed on taking the club to its new heights.

Gupta, who grew up with cricket in India and moved to Australia in 2010, was always looking for that passion outside his work in the local government sector and when the opportunity with the Heatherton Cricket Club presented itself to him he lapped it up viewing this move of being at the helm of a cricket club a holy mission.

For starters, there is always a lot of background work that needs to be done at community sporting clubs, says Gupta. So he focussed on identifying and working on urgent big issues. “The club needed to build its playing group, so that was among the key focus. Second was finance and my aim was to make ourselves financially stable. Three, and most important, was building relationship with our main stakeholders such as the Kingston City Council, Cricket Southern Bayside League and Heatherton Football Club.”

“Relationship with them is key,” says Gupta.

With the cricket season starting next week—it actually starts in August but this year it has been pushed out because of COVID-19—Heatherton Cricket Club is pepped up. With a total of 10 new players from different ethnic backgrounds, Gupta believes this can turn into a real advantage because of the diverse skills the players bring to the ground.

“It’s a Hills league. We got two teams in our club and both teams play different division in that league. We will have two games every Saturday, one each for the two teams. We will be playing at our home ground or on someone else’s home ground,” he says.

For Gupta and as much as for everyone else, the team camaraderie is one of the main values that redeems them. “It is lovely. That is one thing I have experienced being in the club as a player and now as president. The social aspect, interaction in the club room, and during the game and outside the game is like a family. Everyone looks after each other, support one another and have a laugh. We just live the life together as we spend a lot of time together, half of your weekend is spent with those guys, and the families join in.”

The only challenge being all this is volunteer based, so people understandably struggle to invest time. “Everyone is busy in their professional as well as their personal lives, so taking the time out to focus on volunteer activities we all know is hard. But there is the passion behind and that still drives everyone. Anyone can do it, especially if you have the selfless vision of engaging without thinking what is in it for me.”

Gupta, who has embraced cricket as a near philanthropy, is aiming to provide value to sponsors and bringing the club into prominence again. For one, the club is looking at partnership with Qoin, a digital currency making waves in Australia now.

“Heatherton Cricket Club as a business has joined hands with Qoin and we are part of the Qoin merchant list. That way, we can manage our financial transactions in Qoin—that is the commercial part of it. But the fact that we have acknowledged Qoin as partners means that we want to be a part of the positive story that Qoin is not just any crypto currency. We are very pleased to have Qoin on board,” says Gupta, adding, “We would love to partner with other businesses to mutually support each other in these unprecedented times.”

During a during a distressing economic time, perhaps this makes more sense. But, the fact remains, Heatherton Club has stated a goal of becoming one of the best.

Connect with Indira Laisram on Twitter

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