More prominent role for Wellington's Karori Park

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 17/12/2013

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Karori Park's star continues to rise, with 50-over cricket the next format set to grace the suburban ground.

Second-placed Wellington meet Plunket Shield leaders Canterbury at Karori from Friday, which will be the fourth first-class match to be staged at the suburban park. A fifth is scheduled for February.

Come February and March 2015, the ground's repertoire is expected to be expanded to include domestic 50-over matches as well.

Cricket Wellington (CW) operations and marketing manager Bryan Dickinson said the Basin Reserve's status as a practice venue for the 2015 Cricket World Cup meant it would be on "lock down" for activities beyond that and Karori could be required to host Firebirds' one-day matches.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and World Cup organisers are still working through the details concerning exactly how long the Basin will be out of use, but there was confidence from all quarters that Karori would be a more than adequate replacement.

CW doesn't impose a gate charge at 50-over matches so, infrastructure-wise, little would need to change at the ground in the event that short-form cricket was played there.

NZC's general manager of grounds Ian McKendry and operations manager Lindsay Crocker inspected the on and off-field facilities at Karori last week and were impressed, Dickinson said.

In the meantime, the finishing touches are being put on the ground for its latest Plunket Shield assignment.

The Firebirds trained there last week, ahead of their eight-wicket win over Otago, and will do for the rest of this week.

"They were happy. The pitches are improving each year and the outfield is good," Dickinson said.

"No-one wants to go off the Basin. I mean why would anyone not want to play at the Basin? It's really about making sure what's available at Karori is up to standard and keeps them happy ... but you're still comparing a first-class venue with a test match venue."

Karori uses the same Patumahoe clay as the Basin and while the wicket isn't quite as good as the Basin's, there aren't many that are.

The Basin showed again, during New Zealand's second test win over the West Indies, what a fine block it has, with pace, bounce and good value for batsmen and bowlers that worked hard.

Dickinson said white-painted shipping containers would again be used as sightscreens for Wellington's clash with Canterbury, although a longer-term solution was being sought.

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- Fairfax Media

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