Molyneux Park pitch no-balled

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2011

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Holiday cricket in Alexandra has again been given the red card with more concerns raised over the state of the Molyneux Park pitch.

New Zealand Cricket announced on Tuesday that it would shift the December 29 HRV Cup Twenty20 game between the Otago Volts and the Northern Knights to Dunedin.

After a venue inspection last week, NZC has withdrawn the venue warrant of fitness for Molyneux Park until a permanent cricket turf manager is appointed.

As a consequence, the December 29 game has been moved to University Oval in Dunedin.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Molyneux Park was a popular spot for holidaymakers as Otago held domestic fixtures in Alexandra.

However, in later years, the standard of the pitch has deteriorated, prompting games to be shifted to other venues.

NZC grounds and facilities manager Ian McKendry said the park's contractor "has been trying to fill the vacant position of turf manager for some time without success and with the scheduled match now less than six weeks away, there is no certainty that the necessary preparation can be completed to the required standard".

"Molyneux Park has a long history of hosting cricket over the holiday period and there is no reason why this shouldn't continue once a qualified and permanent cricket turf manager is in place.

"The standards now required for the top level of cricket are stringent and without fulltime supervision, we could not be certain the venue could meet those standards."

Otago Cricket chief executive Ross Dykes acknowledged the decision was in line with current standards.

However, he was disappointed the traditional Central Otago holiday crowds would again be deprived of cricket.

"The volunteer base in Alexandra is hugely enthusiastic and proactive and they, like us, will be gutted that cricket will be missing from Molyneux Park for the second year in a row," Dykes said.

"Last year's rain spoiled what promised to be one of our biggest domestic crowds in some time.

"This decision was not made lightly, and I know NZC are still supportive of us looking to preserve the traditional holiday cricket in Alexandra."

Dykes confirmed the December 29 fixture would be played at University Oval in Dunedin, with a 5pm start to cater for those working between Christmas and New Year.

However, Central Otago fans would not miss out completely.

The Otago Volts fourth-round match will be played in Queenstown on New Year's Eve.

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- The Southland Times

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