Pitch turned for top form

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By MARY-JO TO­HILL

If Molyneux Park’s cricket pitch gets the tick of ap­proval af­ter the do­mes­tic Hawke Cup games in De­cem­ber, Alexan­dra could see the re­turn of top Twenty20 matches next sea­son. Emerg­ing from the dark days of an em­ploy­ment dis­pute with the ex-grounds­man, when the turf was deemed un­fit for first-class cricket last year, brighter days were fore­cast for Molyneux in 2013. The proof will be in the pitch, with grounds­man An­drew Dou­glas em­ployed last De­cem­ber to win back the of­fi­cial war­rant of fit­ness. He is get­ting ready to turn the turf this week, re­fur­bish­ing the wicket block for the De­cem­ber 8and 9 Hawke Cup match be­tween Otago Coun­try and South­land. Otago Cricket De­vel­op­ment man­ager Andy Sains­bury said be­cause of the favourable com­ments he had re­ceived dur­ing the New Zealand Cricket Play­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion celebrity match played at the park in Fe­bru­ary this year, he had ev­ery con­fi­dence that top notch cricket would be back. ‘‘It’s not just about cricket. New Zealand Cricket does not make a great fi­nan­cial re­turn from these matches but it’s what Christ­mas cricket does for the town and how it ties in with other sum­mer hol­i­day ac­tiv­i­ties, such as the Omakau races and other events.’’ New Zealand Cricket’s grounds and fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Ian McK­endry said Molyneux Park was ‘‘still on the radar’’ for both dis­trict and first-class matches but it would be Otago Cricket’s call on when this would hap­pen. Otago Cricket chief ex­ec­u­tive Ross Dykes, vis­it­ing Alexan­dra this week, said it was im­por­tant for the sport’s de­vel­op­ment in Cen­tral Otago that matches were played in Alexan­dra again. But he said it was a tall or­der for the coun­cil, which had taken over from the now dis­solved Molyneux Park Char­i­ta­ble Trust, to foot the bill. ‘‘It’s a real chal­lenge for the Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil be­ing asked to put in a lot of in­fra­struc­ture for just a cou­ple of matches a year.’’ How­ever, parks of­fi­cer Ge­off King said the coun­cil had made a com­mit­ment to up­grad­ing the park to get top cricket back and it was now up to the Vin­cent Community Board to make de­ci­sions to get the park back on track. Queen­stown would be the clos­est venue for most Cen­tral Otago peo­ple to see a HRV Cup Twenty20 match when Otago Volts go up against Auck­land Aces at the Queen­stown Events Cen­tre on De­cem­ber 31. Af­ter the dis­trict’s game in De­cem­ber and the celebrity match on Jan­uary 27, the next Hawke Cup match would be played Fe­bru­ary 23 to 24.


Per­fect pitch: Otago Cricket de­vel­op­ment man­ager Andy Sains­bury and Molyneux Park grounds­man An­drew Dou­glas check the wicket.

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