Invercargill warrant in doubt over drainage

Invercargill's Queens Park could lose its New Zealand Cricket warrant of fitness unless improvements are made to the drainage.

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

As a result, the venue’s warrant of fitness is under review and that process is being led by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) head of cricket operations Richard Brewer.

He will meet representatives from Otago and Southland cricket later this month to get a "thorough breakdown" of the issues.

"But at that duck pond end of the ground there are a few challenges with drainage and shading, so the next step is to have a meeting in a couple of week’s time to talk through what the challenges are and what the possible solutions are," he said.

The drainage was upgraded in 2015 but there is no coverage in a patch at the duck pond end.

The damp spot caused significant disruptions to play. The teams initially found a work-around by bringing the boundary rope in. But the game was eventually called off, due to further weather delays.

"We need to understand what the remedy is," Brewer said.

"If it was a case of would we be able to play there tomorrow without anything being done, then I think probably that would be a risk we wouldn’t be able to take.

"We have an obligation to make sure that first-class cricket is being played at venues where, in the right circumstances, teams can get into a position where there can be a result."

It is expensive to staged first-class games and more so in Invercargill, where both teams have to be accommodated instead of just the visitors.

That is not the main concern for NZC, however.

"The bigger cost is not having our professional players playing, which is why we need to make sure we are doing everything we can."

Brewer said the ground staff at Queens Park did an excellent job preparing a good pitch, so the problems were limited to the drainage.

The University of Otago Oval has also had drainage issues in the past before further improvements were made last year.

Alexandra’s Molyneux Park lost its warrant of fitness following the 2008-09 season and it was withdrawn again in 2011. Both times it was because the pitch was not up to standard and wicket drew criticism again a few seasons back.

"[Molyneux Park] is another case in point, of working through a collaborative process because they had their challenges but have probably produced some of the best T20 wickets in the country off the back of the work they were able to do," Brewer said.

 

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