Con­crete cricket con­tro­versy

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - SAMHEWAT

‘‘Con­crete pitches are ut­terly de­spised by play­ers.’’

An Auck­land cricket club says it’s found the best so­lu­tion to Auck­land’s cricket pitch short­age.

One­hunga Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion’s grounds at Waikaraka Park have been iden­ti­fied by Auck­land Cricket as a site for more con­crete cricket pitches in or­der to ful­fil a pro­jected short­fall of 32 pitches by 2021.

Auck­land Cricket’s ju­nior num­bers have grown 19 per cent fol­low­ing the 2015 Cricket World Cup and a fur­ther 7 per cent in the last year, putting strain on the re­gion’s fa­cil­i­ties.

The cur­rent con­fig­u­ra­tion of Waikaraka Park is seven nat­u­ral grass wicket blocks with up to four cricket wick­ets per block. A pro­posal to re­place up to four of One­hunga’s nat­u­ral wick­ets with con­crete wick­ets would help ease the bur­den.

How­ever, One­hunga Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Tim Plant was ve­he­mently against con­crete wick­ets, and set out to ex­plore an al­ter­na­tive. Last Satur­day, the as­so­ci­a­tion tri­alled new Flicx pitches - a roll out, mat-like sur­face that al­lows cricket to be played any­where, any­time.

Be­cause of its syn­thetic ma­te­rial, it also al­lows for vari- able bounce and spin - some­thing con­crete wick­ets are not fa­mous for.

For Plant, the Flicx pitches are the per­fect al­ter­na­tive to a con­crete sur­face that is ex­tremely lim­it­ing.

‘‘Con­crete pitches are ut­terly de­spised by

Plant said.

‘‘There’s no chal­lenge and peo­ple can’t bowl spin. The cricket play­ers,’’ bounce on con­crete is the­o­ret­i­cally per­fect which is the prob­lem be­cause it doesn’t vary, which makes bat­ting easy.

‘‘It’s just an un­pleas­ant sur­face, it doesn’t make for en­ter­tain­ing cricket, and I don’t know any­one in cricket that likes them.’’

Plant said Flicx pitches could be rolled out over any sur­face, mean­ing rugby and foot­ball fields could be used.

How­ever, Plant has had trou­ble con­vinc­ing Auck­land Cricket to move away from a prod­uct that hasn’t changed in 50 years and said they have point­edly re­fused to dis­cuss any al­ter­na­tive op­tion.

Auck­land Cricket’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Cameron said the as­so­ci­a­tion had looked at al­ter­na­tives.

‘‘We haven’t got our heads buried in the sand,’’ Cameron said.

‘‘We will look at all prod­ucts.’’ But Cameron said con­crete was the best op­tion the or­gan­i­sa­tion had at the mo­ment.

SUP­PLIED

Malkesh Pa­tel tri­als One­hunga Cricket’s new al­ter­na­tive Flicx pitch. TimPlant

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