Volts using ground hits short circuit

Mike Coggan
Mike Coggan
Delays in upgrading the drainage at the University of Otago cricket ground could mean the Volts eleven will be forced to spend most of their playing seasons outside their home town.

Dunedin City Council parks and recreation group manager Robert West last week confirmed planned work to upgrade the drainage at the venue had been deferred due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Work initially had been scheduled to get under way late last month.

"Our preferred option was to undertake this in the autumn. However, technical experts have told us that it can be undertaken successfully in the spring," he said.

The work involves removing the top 40mm of the surface material, increasing the drainage capacity and establishing a new surface.

It is expected to take six to eight weeks and could get under way in late August.

Otago Cricket Association chief executive Mike Coggan said that would mean the Volts would be unlikely to play any cricket at the venue before the four Women’s World Cup games scheduled to be played there in February.

"If they don’t start the work until spring, then I would have thought there will be some challenges," he said.

"You can imagine in the first innings there won’t be any domestic cricket played in Dunedin until [after the World Cup].

"When you think about even your own backyard and how long it takes, not only [to] sow some seed but then to turn it into strong, healthy grass — it takes months."

If Otago could not play on the venue until after the World Cup, there would also be the added cost of staging those games around the region, Coggan said.

"You are talking about a significant cost increase when you start playing all of the home games away from Dunedin. So that has implications from a New Zealand Cricket point of view as well."

New Zealand Cricket funds the professional game. But what the financial landscape will look like after the pandemic is unclear.

What is certain is added expenses like hosting games in Queenstown or additional games in Alexandra will not be welcome news for the national body.

It is unclear whether the delays in the upgrade to the drainage would have any impact on the decision to stage four World Cup games in the city.

There are also wider concerns about whether the event can go ahead. New Zealand’s borders are closed to international visitors while the country battles the spread of Covid-19.

Those restrictions would need to be lifted for the event to go ahead as planned.

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