Invercargill ground loses WOF

Invercargill's Queens Park has been sidelined by New Zealand Cricket.

The national body has put the venue’s warrant of fitness (WOF) on hold until it is satisfied improvements have been made.

That means no first-class or men’s and women’s limited-overs games will be held at the venue this summer.

Questions were raised about its suitability when a first-class game between Otago and Auckland in March was ruined due to a combination of wet weather and poor drainage.

Ian McKendry
Ian McKendry
The venue’s WOF was put under review, and following an independent report, New Zealand Cricket has decided not to scheduled any games there this season.

NZC head of turf management Ian McKendry said there were some significant drainage issues at the duck pond end of the ground that had now been addressed.

But the report brought to light several other issues that will need to be rectified.

The soil structure has been identified as not as permeable as it could be, so the ground drains very slowly at the duck pond end — good for ducks but not so good for cricket.

McKendry said sand slits would help improved the drainage.

Club cricket and Hawke Cup cricket will still be played on the ground and ‘‘we’ll keep a close eye on it and continue to work with Southland Cricket in terms of how the drainage performs this season before we revisit the WOF’’.

‘‘It is a shame it has come to this point. But if we work together, we can get on top of it, and Queens Park remains an important cricket ground and we want to see first-class cricket played there.’’

Southland Cricket Association chairman Gerry Ward said the association was disappointed but understood the venue needed to meet certain standards, and it would endeavour to get the required work done in partnership with the Invercargill City Council.

Dunedin’s University Oval has also had drainage issues in the past before further improvements were made in 2020, while Alexandra’s Molyneux Park lost its WOF following the 2008-09 season and again in 2011 when the pitch was not deemed up to standard.

Last week, Otago Cricket Association chief executive Mike Coggan revealed Molyneux Park would not be hosting any limited-overs cricket during the break between Christmas and New Year this summer because it cannot provide a broadcast tower for Spark Sport.

Those games are expected to be shifted to Queenstown.

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