Drainage work at oval deferred

University of Otago Oval. Photo: Christine O'Connor
University of Otago Oval. Photo: Christine O'Connor
Crucial work needed to upgrade the University of Otago Oval has been put on hold.

In a statement on Friday, Dunedin City Council group manager of parks and recreation services Robert West confirmed the international cricket venue was one of the many council facilities where regular maintenance was no longer being carried out due to the Government’s Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown guidelines.

"Work was due to get under way this month on improving the outfield drainage at the University of Otago Oval for the 2020-21 season,’’ he said.

"This is now on hold as it is not essential work, but we will consider undertaking this work in the spring if we are able to."

West could not be reached for further comment. However, in late February he told the Otago Daily Times the upgrade was required to "ensure that we have a first-class playing surface ready in time for the Women’s World Cup Cricket 2021 fixtures to be held in Dunedin next summer’’.

The work was expected to be finished in June and the venue would have been available in plenty of time for the beginning of the domestic season, which starts in October.

However, if the work is delayed until September, then the ground would be out of commission for up to three months which would mean the Otago Volts would have to play elsewhere during that time.

Dunedin is scheduled to host four round-robin games in the ICC Women’s World Cup.

The White Ferns host a qualifying side on February 9 and South Africa will also make the journey south for a game against a qualifier on February 14.

England, the defending champion, will be in Dunedin on February 13 for its game against a qualifier, while two qualifiers will play each other at the ground on February 7.

The planned upgrade of the Oval had already caused some scheduling dilemmas. The multi-use ground is home the University Rugby Football Club and the planned upgrade meant its premier grade team was not going to be able to play at home this season.

The club had been happy to make the sacrifice. However, there has been some tension in the past.

Maintenance on the pitch block at the end of each cricket season has put the ground out of commission for the early rounds of club rugby.

The pitch block also became very boggy two years ago and games had to be shifted to another venue because the surface was deemed unsuitable.

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