Concrete cricket controversy
‘‘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
‘‘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.
Malkesh Patel trials Onehunga Cricket’s new alternative Flicx pitch. TimPlant