Albion busy building a first class practice pitch

Albion Cricket Club groundsman Ricky Whyte beds down the new first class cricket  pitch at the...
Albion Cricket Club groundsman Ricky Whyte beds down the new first class cricket pitch at the Whitestone Contracting Centennial Outer Oval in Oamaru. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Efforts to bring first class cricket back to Oamaru are a step closer, after the Albion Cricket Club stumped up thousands of dollars to help establish top-flight facilities.

First class cricket had not been played in Oamaru since Otago played Central Districts in 1985, and although the Waitaki District Council last year agreed to fund the creation of a first class pitch for North Otago Cricket, modern-day first class requirements also meant a first class practice pitch was needed if the town was to host an Otago Volts match.

Albion club president Stephen Halliwell said while the Waitaki District Council would contribute $50,000 to establish a first class pitch on Centennial Park No 2 ground, there had been no council contribution towards the $20,000 cost to establish the practice pitch, so the club set about doing the work itself.

''So we've had grants from New Zealand Community Trust, Network Waitaki, P and W Painters, Working Smarter and then the club itself has had to find $5000 itself, just from club funds and fundraising.

''We started building it in April, last year.

''Unfortunately, all the wet weather we have had has extended how long it's taken to get it ready.

''The interesting thing for us is the Kakanui soil - the local soil, of course; it's supplied by a local business. It's specially tested to have the right content.''

The cricket ground, which would be located on the former Centennial Park No 6 and No 7 grounds, would be renamed the Whitestone Contracting Centennial Outer Oval, he said.

Mr Halliwell said the wicket, was built to similar specification as the first class pitch at Queenstown, which was recently used by the Black Caps in a match against the West Indies.

''So we get to play on that for the first time in two weeks.

''It's exciting, I can't wait, but I have to wait three weeks before the first team plays on it.

''The second-grade team will be the first team to play on it - it's just the way the draw has worked out.

''Although it's primarily a club wicket, it will be used for age group tournaments and things like that.''

The Waitaki District Council agreed last year to pay to move North Otago Cricket matches from Centennial Park's main oval (No 1 ground) to the No 2 and No 3 grounds, in order to avoid fixture clashes between the North Otago representative cricket and rugby teams, but that work will not start until autumn.


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