Sporting showcase gives us a chance to shine

Last updated 12:00 15/02/2014

Relevant offers

OPINION: Sporting success is a fickle goal, with the journey between hero and zero astonishingly quick.

Almost as quick as a Mitchell Johnson delivery.

The fast bowler spearheaded one of the more spectacular falls from sporting grace this summer when Australia trounced an English cricket team that only months before had comfortably won the Ashes.

The turnaround can be equally puzzling the other way.

The New Zealand cricket team's sparkling Indian summer - despite a difficult day at the Basin Reserve yesterday - is a world away from the bleak defeats on the field in South Africa last year and the black clouds over the dumping of captain Ross Taylor.

The resurrection could hardly have come at a better time for the sport, with only a year until the Cricket World Cup party comes to New Zealand, including Nelson

Saxton Oval will stage three games next February and March.

Organisers hope the tournament will be embraced in the same manner as the 2011 Rugby World Cup that brought a month-long festival atmosphere to the "stadium of 4 million".

Cricket will not draw the same numbers or passion as the national game, but such a high-profile competition provides a relatively rare shop window for international exposure in this part of the world.

There are usually inconclusive debates about the benefits of such competitions to host countries, and cricket may not directly bring large numbers of tourists.

However, New Zealand's profile can only benefit from the spotlight shone on it during the height of summer and the tourist season.

In Christchurch, for example, it is being seen as an opportunity to reinforce the message that the city is back in business.

In Nelson, the West Indies is the only cricketing power - and a much faded one - that will play at Saxton.

The other countries playing here - Ireland, Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh and Scotland - are lesser lights.

But, in the same way as Russia and the United States added underdog charm to Nelson's rugby World Cup hosting and attracted committed bands of followers, the same can be hoped for the minnows next year.

The surprise-packet Scots are sure to draw a legion of Bravehearts and everyone with a wee Caledonian link in their family tree, while the Irish never go short of supporters.

In a year there should be a colourful buzz around the streets of Nelson, and the rest of the country. Those behind the development of Saxton Oval, the councils that backed the ground and the world cup bid, deserve a lot of credit for putting Nelson on the sporting map.

Ad Feedback

- The Nelson Mail

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content