Leather on willow returns to Molyneux

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2013

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After an almost two-year hiatus cricket is back in Alexandra during the festive season and Otago Country Cricket development manager Andy Sainsbury is hopeful it will again become a permanent fixture on the calender.

Alexandra's Molyneux Park had become a traditional holiday cricketing destination from 1980 through to 2011 with the Otago Volts playing domestic limited-overs matches at the ground proving popular for many holiday-makers in the central region.

However, the last Volts game played at the venue was in January 2011 with New Zealand Cricket stripping the ground of its warrant of fitness.

There were concerns about the state of the Molyneux Park facilities but the big black mark was with the pitch which wasn't regarded as up to standard.

The pitch and current groundsman, Andrew Douglas, have since proved themselves to the point that today Molyneux Park will host the Otago Volts-Auckland Aces Twenty20 game, starting at 2pm.

Sainsbury said there was excitment about Molyneux Park being back in action and hoped they could gain some momentum again in the coming years with people regularly making a trip to the park at this time of year.

"We might have lost a bit (of momentum) but I think there's a lot of excitement about the game coming back to Molyneux Park. We're trying to get it regularly on the calender again so people can come to the cricket and then a couple of days later go to the Omakau Trots. It would become a regular event for the holiday-makers."

While it was disappointing top level domestic cricket had been missing in Alexandra, it did have an upside.

"I suppose its been a blessing in disguise, it gave the groundsman the time to pick up the skills and knowledge to be able to produce a good first-class wicket."

Meanwhile, the Volts have welcomed Hamish Rutherford back from international duty for today's game.

However, Brendon and Nathan McCullum, Jesse Ryder and Jimmy Neesham are all unavailable because they are part of the New Zealand one-day international team.

Neil Wagner and Ian Butler are absent from the side to travel to Alexandra due to injury concerns.

Wagner has a slight side strain while Butler continues to be troubled by the back injury which has kept him from the field for much of this season.

Well performed overseas professional Ryan ten Doeschate has rejoined the Otago side and will take his place in the middle order today.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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