Early use of new Hagley wicket defended

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2013

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Canterbury cricket chief Lee Germon has defended the early use of the new wicket block at Hagley Oval for the Wizards Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts which lasted a little over two days.

Twenty wickets fell on the first day then 14 on the second before Northern won the match outright by six wickets early on the third of a scheduled four days on Saturday.

Germon said yesterday the new pitch "was never going to be a hard, fast belter. It did provide the bowlers with possibly too much assistance on the first day but many of these dismissals were self-inflicted and the Northern Districts batsmen showed on the second afternoon and third morning that it wasn't a 150-runs wicket."

He said the schedule for Hagley Oval this season was confirmed in consultation with New Zealand Cricket and the Christchurch City Council.

"To be considered for World Cup allocation it was imperative to play first-class cricket on the Oval and certainly the main question was the scheduling of the first match.

"However, based on the known construction of the block and the performance of the wicket in the two-day club match beforehand, New Zealand Cricket provided a warrant of fitness to play the scheduled first-class matches on it."

Germon said it was an outstanding effort from Rupert Bool, the head groundsman, to get the pitch ready for play a little over two months after being sown.

Bool was backed by New Zealand Cricket's head of grounds Ian McKendry, who thought he had done a fine job with pitch preparation.

"We all have learned a lot from the first outing, including the ground staff and players, but in the end it is a new block and will be for the remainder of this season," Germon said.

What was patently clear was the potential for this block to be an outstanding cricket wicket assisting the bowlers and batsmen, he said.

"The outfield is in superb condition and the match reinforced that this can be a very special cricket ground in the future."

The next step to developing the ground further is a hearing at the Environment Court and Canterbury Cricket is waiting for a date. Submissions closed on Monday last week.

Canterbury has another Plunket Shield match scheduled for Hagley Oval next week against Auckland, starting on Wednesday.

Their next match is against Central Districts at Rangiora, starting on Thursday.

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