Accolades for ground ‘rewarding’

Molyneux Park
Molyneux Park. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Molyneux Park’s reputation is under repair.

The venue’s pitch, practice facilities and even the catering have come in for a healthy dose of praise in the match referee’s report.

Otago hosted Canterbury in a Plunket Shield game at the ground last week and Otago Country Cricket Association chairman Malcolm Jones said both captains and the match referee rated the pitch and the practice facilities as "very good".

That was a welcome review considering the Alexandra venue has had a checkered past.

It lost its New Zealand Cricket warrant of fitness following the 2008-09 season and it was withdrawn again in 2011.

Its reputation took another beating during the 2018-19 season.

The practice and playing surfaces were of poor quality and likened to "a dry riverbed of rolled mud" in a scathing report.

The pitch improved last summer under the leadership of head groundsman Guy McCone.

That said, the pitch block was relayed in February and there was trepidation leading into the fixture.

It was the first game on the new surface but concerns were allayed once both captains were able feel how hard the surface was.

"It was so rewarding to see the results that had been achieved," Jones said.

"It was only around July-August last year when Delta was appointed and Guy and his team could get on with the job.

"In only 18 months it has gone from being a bit of a disaster to as good as anywhere in the country."

Jones has been a passionate advocate for the ground during the years.

He has been watching matches at Molyneux Park since the late 1970s and scoring Otago games at the ground since 1986.

Jones felt the outfield was as good as he had ever seen it which was testament to the work by McCone and his team.

However, Jones warned there was still hard work ahead.

"There are practice nets out the back that need extending to be of the highest quality and we probably need to look at getting permanent sightscreens.

"And, of course, we are still progressing towards getting an electronic scoreboard.

"If we get all those boxes ticked in the next couple or three years, the ground will be as good as anywhere including all the international grounds.

"But at the moment the most important part has been ticked off with the pitch and ground.

"The ground looked an absolute picture the other day."

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