Blenheim may get A games
First-class cricket and the Central Stags will not be back playing at Horton Park in the foreseeable future, but, if the words of CD's new director of cricket, Craig Ross, are anything to go by, provincial A games may be hosted in Blenheim sooner rather than later.
Appointed to the new role in November, Napier-based Ross was in Blenheim on Tuesday to meet Marlborough Cricket's operations manager Ed Gilhooly and chairman Greg Stretch and catch up on the health of the game in this province.
Ross' new role is one he is more than qualified to fill. Originally from the Counties area, the opening bowler played for every Northern Districts age-group side and represented New Zealand at under-19 and under-20 level. He made his debut for ND at senior level in 1990 and, if not for a series of back injuries, would have played more than his 17 first-class and 10 one-day matches. Once retired, Ross took a break from cricket before becoming involved again six years ago, first as a coach and then in his most recent role as the high-performance director at ND.
Horton Park has hosted 13 CD matches since 1972, but the last was over 10 years ago, a four-day match against Auckland in December 2002.
While it was unlikely that would change in the near future, there was a strong possibility of provincial A cricket coming to Blenheim, Ross said. "One thing we would like to look at with Marlborough is the A programme. There is an underlying current of support from the major associations to create more in the A programme and I'd like to think we can bring A cricket back to Horton Park.
"There are quite strict criteria around grounds achieving a warrant of fitness for first-class cricket and there would have to be a substantial investment in facilities to have it back here. To my mind, you have to look at the return on that investment.
"My gut feeling is to spend tens of thousands of dollars to bring [Horton Park] up to scratch for a game of cricket, is that a worthwhile investment when there are other things needed? [Marlborough] have talked to us about their desire for an indoor facility here to help grow the game. Those things. . . are more of a priority."
As the director of cricket for CD, Ross said his initial focus has been on meeting people and building relationships to determine where things are at within CD. He had already established that integrating everything from the professional team down to game development was essential, while communication was also key, given the physical distances between CD's eight district associations.
"I've seen already in my observations that everything about CD comes back to the eight district associations being strong. Knowing what they want to do and helping them achieve that."
With regards to Marlborough, CD wanted to help sustain a very good senior rep side and support the coaches coming through. In terms of facilities, the creation of a new indoor facility was something he saw real merit in.
The major thing he had noticed was the passion for the game within the CD area. He felt as long as that stayed the same, the future for CD and Marlborough cricket could only be bright.
"The thing that I have really noticed is the people involved, they are passionate and they are willing to be innovative and look at answers to ways of moving the game forward. When you are working with people like that, things will happen.
"Speaking with Greg and Ed before coming here and now meeting them, Marlborough is in great hands and I hope everyone gets behind them and really assist Marlborough cricket to move forward."