Southland cricket officials embarrassed by drainage problems

Southland cricket officials admit to being embarrassed as drainage problems at Queens Park halted play in its only first-class game of the summer.
That's despite players and officials being greeted to blue skies in Invercargill.

The Otago Volts and Auckland Aces teams were scheduled to start their four-day Plunket Shield fixture at Queens Park at 10.30am on Thursday.

However, when the umpires inspected the ground they found it was too dangerous to start despite the perfect day weather-wise.

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An area at the duck pond end of the ground remained soft underfoot following a downpour earlier in the week.

Play eventually got started at 1.15pm but that was after it was agreed that the boundary close to the area of question be bought in to avoid the soft part.

Southland Cricket Association chairman Gerry Ward admits the situation was embarrassing given the costs the teams had forked out to get to Invercargill and the quality of players on display.

New Zealand Cricket staff were also in Invercargill assessing the venue on Thursday.

Ward feared it could jeopardise Invercargills chances of securing future first-class fixtures ion the future.

The drainage problems at the Invercargill City Council-owned Queens Park ground have been ongoing for many years. SCA leases the ground from the council.

The council carried out drainage improvements in 2015 which Ward said they were very thankful for. He added it had made significant improvements to the majority of the ground.

However, the drainage work carried out did not extend to the area of the ground which is currently causing problems.

Another part of the problem was that a row of tall trees kept the area of ground in shade for the majority of the day and made drying difficult.

Ward said they had approached the council on various occasions in recent years about the prospect of cutting some trees down to help with drying but nothing had yet been sorted.

In 2016 an entire day of the Otago-Canterbury Plunket Shield game was lost at Queens Park despite the weather being fine for the majority of the day.

The problem area did not dry after some early morning rain.

SCA groundsman Jason Osborne was frustrated that it reflected poorly on him when in fact there was little he could do about the outfield problems at Queens Park.

The Invercargill City Council has been approached for comment.

The Otago-Auckland fixture will continue through to Sunday in Invercargill.


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