Frustration at boggy grounds runs over

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012
STL STD
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
BOGGED: Southland Cricket groundsman Kevin Cooper stomping a piece of sponge to soak up excess water on the Queens Park

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The Southland Cricket Association's frustration over the state of the Queens Park outfield continues.

SCA general manager Ian Mockford sent a letter yesterday to the Invercargill City Council and members of the Southland cricket community outlining continuing issues with the state of the grounds.

He also highlighted concerns that a lack of action was hindering efforts to grow the sport. "Southland Cricket is very aware that we have had a terrible last month with weather but it is now at the stage where our clubs and junior players are getting discouraged and that is impacting on their desire to play cricket. We still understand that you cannot play cricket when it's raining, but within a few hours we should be able to play once the rain has stopped," he said.

In April this year Mockford made a plea to the Invercargill City Council to help fix the drainage problems at Queens Park once and for all, but is annoyed very little has been done to help solve the problem.

The SCA has recently appointed a new chairman in Gerry Ward who wants to get the outfield at Queens Park sorted.

New Zealand Cricket's warrant of fitness standard for grounds requires them to drain at a rate of at least 25mm per hour but a report by the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute shows Queens Park drains at 1.8mm per hour.

The SCA tabled a proposed drainage system plan in April which would cost $200,000-plus and would allow play to go ahead soon after rain stops.

The council met Mockford and said it could offer only $50,000.

The SCA boss said since that meeting there had been little communication from the council and there was no indication over where that $50,000 had been spent.

He said that to date three trenches had been dug and the ground had been surveyed.

"Southland Cricket is again very frustrated with a perceived lack of communication from the ICC around our outfields. The attitude that we need to just wait for the weather to change is not good enough. We need to have an outfield that allows us to maximise the use of the ground," the letter said.

"I respectfully wish to ask the ICC what is happening to correct the ongoing issues that we are facing. I thought we had made some progress with off-season discussions, but we are now back to square one. The concerns that have been voiced by the SCA and our cricketing community are long-standing issues that have been brought up over many years; this is not a recent problem."

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Mockford said that given the current state of Queens Park's two cricket grounds, rain meant play would be under serious jeopardy days later, and this had seriously limited club and junior cricket this season.

"Personally I don't enjoy telling a seven-year-old that they can't play their scheduled cricket match because the outfield is too wet, when the sun is streaming down."

It is understood the Otago Cricket Association is making a play at getting World Cup qualifying games to the region but it seems unlikely Invercargill will get any of that action because of the standard of the outfield.

Next week the Otago Sparks are scheduled to host the Auckland Hearts in New Zealand domestic women's fixtures, but Mockford said there were serious concerns that the outfield would not be up to the standard necessary for those games to go ahead.

- The Southland Times

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