Nelson makes pitch for World Cup games
While details of the bid remain "commercially sensitive", Nelson's effort to host matches at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup appears to be well advanced.
A delegation of officials from the International Cricket Council, their commercial partners and local organisers were in Nelson yesterday.
The Nelson City Council presented its bid in the Saxton Oval Pavilion, before going on a tour of the proposed match venue, local training facilities and accommodation.
Chris Tetley, the ICC events manager based in Dubai, was impressed by the facilities and conditions, asking if the weather was always this nice in New Zealand.
"It's beautiful, it's a lovely little ground," said Tetley. "It's obviously a boutique scale ground that is newly built and so it has new facilities.
"The wicket looks lovely, there has obviously been a lot of cricket here lately, but that looks as though it has been well managed."
Although a need for VIP seating areas was discussed by the inspection party, Tetley would not comment on the merits or weaknesses in Nelson's bid to host games.
"This visit is an exercise in understanding exactly what is here, and what we might possibly need to do for Cricket World Cup depending upon what the outcome of the selection process is for venues," he said.
The 11th ICC Cricket World Cup, which is played in one-day international limited overs format, will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, much the same as the 1992 tournament held in the two countries.
Australia and New Zealand had originally bid to host the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup on a 50-50 match-sharing arrangement.
That tournament was awarded to and hosted by the four sub-continent test playing nations, although the hosting rights for 2015 World Cup were awarded to the trans-Tasman bid at the same time.
As with the 2011 World Cup, 14 teams will take part in the tournament including the 10 test-playing nations and four qualifiers.
Divided into two pools of seven, each team would play their pool opponents, with the top four from each progressing to the quarters.
Tetley said he could not give a timeframe as to when match venues would be confirmed, nor was he able to discuss the makeup of the sharing arrangement between co-hosts New Zealand and Australia. He said all the submissions had been received and were being reviewed and no decisions had been made as the process was on-going.
A number of key decision makers were in the inspection tour group who arrived from Wellington yesterday morning before flying out to Christchurch in the afternoon.
From the ICC, along with Tetley was Geoff Allardice, the general manager of cricket operations, and ICC host liaison Michaela Rees. They were accompanied by Kaushik Basuhead from ESPN Star Sports, which has secured the tournament broadcasting rights for a reported US$2 billion.
Joining them was Anthony Crummy, New Zealand operations manager at the ICC, tournament support manager Deb Jones, project manager for the Cricket World Cup qualifier 2014 Steve Dunbar and Lindsay Crocker, head of cricket operations from New Zealand Cricket.
After the presentation from the city council, which included a promotional video, the group was escorted on the facilities tour by Ed Shuttleworth, the general manager of the Nelson Cricket Association.
He said the Nelson Cricket Association fully supported and encouraged the city council bid.
"It is a hugely important step for cricket and the community to maximise the Saxton Oval facility," Shuttleworth said.
"We have a world-class venue there, which everyone agrees on, and everyone who has seen it has been hugely impressed."
The next step would be to encourage internationals to come to the venue.
Although not in attendance, Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio was in contact with the group, receiving updates of how the inspection was progressing.
He said by all accounts, the party had been impressed with the presentation, and he agreed that securing games was important to the region.
"Cricket is a growing sport in Nelson," Mr Miccio said.
"A lot of kids are out there playing it and it would be great to have international cricket here so they can see the international stars in our backyard at Saxton Field."
The Nelson Mail