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Sport field of dreams

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013
Cameron Rope, left, Adil Sherif and Milan Jasarevic

MUTUAL BENEFITS: Cameron Rope, left, Adil Sherif and Milan Jasarevic are working together to foster young cricket and rugby players at College Rifles and Ellerslie Cricket.

Toby Mcfarlane, Joshua Rowbotham and Jack Jones
Lauren Priestley
STARTING YOUNG: Four-year-olds Toby Mcfarlane, Joshua Rowbotham and Jack Jones will be playing cricket all summer on artificial turf.

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Cricket-loving youngsters will play on artificial turf this summer as a result of a collaboration between College Rifles Rugby and Ellerslie Cricket.

Artificial turf has been used for junior cricket internationally but the club believes this is the first time it's been done in New Zealand.

Junior rugby manager Cameron Rope says the idea is to attract new junior cricket and rugby players.

College Rifles approached Ellerslie about the collaboration last month and the decision was finalised July 2.

It means junior cricketers will play on College Rifles' artificial turf, which was installed in 2009. The hope is that some of them might decide to try rugby too.

Ellerslie Cricket's grounds at Michaels Ave will be upgraded this summer so the club was looking for a temporary home. The partnership is perfectly timed, Mr Rope says.

Mr Rope runs a cricket module for 30 under 8-year-olds and hopes to see numbers steadily increase through the partnership.

"We want to pick up the kids that aren't playing cricket. It's not about stealing other clubs' players, we're trying to raise numbers in both sports in general. It's a mutual benefit."

Artificial turf is not used for senior cricket because it takes the variation out of the game, decreases the impact of spin bowlers and can be dangerously slippery for players.

However, juniors play with plastic bats and balls and artificial grounds don't have the same impact, Mr Rope says.

It also means young players will never have a game cancelled because of poor ground conditions.

"We want to give the kids the option of winter and summer sports without worrying about the weather."

Ellerslie Cricket manager Adil Sherif says the collaboration will encourage more cricket players from a young age.

The partnership will also involve coaching courses and scoring lessons so parents can get involved, he says.

"There's a lot more kids that we can reach out to in Auckland in general. Attracting them to either rugby or cricket is a big opportunity for us, so why not use it?"

GIVE IT A GO

The College Rifles-Ellerslie cricket module for 3 to 8-year-olds starts on the first weekend of November.

Register at College Rifles Rugby Club, Remuera, on August 16-17, 23-24 or 30-31 or at ellerslie cricket.co.nz from August 16.

Email Cameron Rope at cameron@collegerifles. co.nz for information.

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- East And Bays Courier

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