Soggy grounds dampen play

Central Leader - - News -

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.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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