Soggy grounds dampen play
B y S c o t t M o rg a n Auckland sports grounds could be confused with mudwrestling pits after weeks of heavy rain.
And it could affect summer sports clubs preparing to use the drenched parks in the coming months.
July saw the parks pounded with 209mm of rain, compared with an average of 135mm.
And 170mm of rain fell in the fi rst two weeks of August, with 109mm the average.
Auckland City Council parks services manager Mark Bowater says his team will be doing all they can to get grounds ready for play by the start of summer.
But he warns if the weather doesn’t pick up, there could be problems getting grounds ready on time.
“The soil moisture content is very, very high.
“If it keeps raining the way it has been, it will have an impact on the work we have to do.”
Mr Bowater says there is normally a break of around six weeks between now and Labour weekend to get the grounds ready.
However, some premier cricket grades begin earlier than that.
Grafton Cricket Club manager Adrian Smith says he is relieved Victoria Park, which they share with Ponsonby Rugby League, has recently been relaid with a sand base.
“At this stage 18 months ago, Vi ctoria Park would have been underwater.”
Mr Smith hopes there will be enough time between the end of the rugby league season later this month and the start of the premier cricket season in early October to get the ground ready.
“If it gets to about a month o u t a n d i t ’s s t i l l r a i n i n g t h e n and they’re not able to get on to it, that’s when I will start to panic,” he says.
“A dry week makes a huge difference.”
Across town at K eith Hay Park the Eden Roskill Cricket Club is also facing some challenges.
Club manager Adrian Ironside describes the conditions as “awful”, with soccer matches played on their number one and two wickets last month making a mess of the ground.
But Mr Ironside doesn’t blame the Three Kings Football Club they share the ground with.
“They’ve had four to fi ve weeks off.
“You feel for them not being able to play.”
Cornwall Cricket Club manager Adrian Dale says the porous volcanic soil at the park and no winter sport on the ground means they are looking good for an October start.
Softball sides have a little more time on their hands, with premier club games scheduled before November played on artifi cially-surfaced diamonds.
But Auckland United chairman Ron McMillan says council workers have plenty to do at Fowlds Park after the Mt Albert Rugby League Club fi nishes using the ground later this month.
“All over the bottom part of the fi eld there are tractor groves 40mm to 50mm deep,” he says.
“But the council has assured us they will be brought up to a decent standard.”
Praying fo r sun:
Grafton club cr icke t manager Adr ian Smith tests out a soft cr icket pitch at Victor ia Pa r k before the season star ts in ear ly October.