Welcome mat put out for White Ferns
When it comes to the White Ferns, they can safely call Invercargill their home.
The city will yet again play host to international women's cricket this season, with Queens Park set to be the key venue for the New Zealand team's Twenty20 series against the West Indies in March.
New Zealand Cricket yesterday released the schedule for the White Ferns-West Indies series, which has Invercargill hosting the first three Twenty20 games in the five-game series, with Queenstown to host the other two. The White Ferns seem comfortable with the prospect of playing in Invercargill, with the national women's team previously taking on Australia and England in the city in all three of their previous international series in New Zealand.
"The feedback we have had is they like playing [in Invercargill].
"They feel that they probably get treated better than they do when they play in some of the bigger centres," Southland Cricket Association general manager Ian Mockford said yesterday.
Mockford was delighted to have international cricket back at Southland cricket headquarters saying it was a good promotion for the sport, for the Queens Park venue and for Invercargill as a whole.
"We had hoped to get  World Cup qualifying games here with Otago putting a bid together for the whole region, but that was turned down. But to have the White Ferns playing here again is great. We're thrilled they will be back, we love having them down here."
The first of the three Twenty20 games in Invercargill will be played on Wednesday, March 5, followed by games on the following Saturday and Sunday.
Soon after the international fixtures, Queens Park's No 1 ground is likely to be ripped up and new drainage put in.
The drainage problems at Queens Park have been well-publicised over the years, with New Zealand Cricket setting a requirement for grounds to be able to drain at 25 millimetres an hour. A report by the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute showed Queens Park drained at only 1.8mm an hour.
The Invercargill City Council was originally reluctant to front up with the money needed for the improvements while the Invercargill Licensing Trust indicated it did not believe funding drainage for a council-owned ground was something it should be involved with.
After Southland Cricket's most recent presentation by Mockford and chairman Gerry Ward, the council has agreed to stump up with just over $100,000 to put in new drains 10 metres apart.
Mockford said that 10m gap was wider than they had hoped for but he was reluctant to take a negative stance.
"We're chuffed the council have come on board and provided the funding they have.
"It's going to be a big help for our cricket community."
- © Fairfax NZ News