Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Solving the Auckland Test Cricket Venue Problem

As an older ground, The Basin is our prime Test Cricket venue. Seddon Park led the new ground layout charge for all cricket, and University Oval soon followed.  And just recently Hagley Oval joined the party.  That's four test venues set up for the premier form of the game.  The process involved recognised that 20,000 + were not going to attend test matches per day, so why build overly ostentatious facilities?  And to be honest, boutique venues with that nice touch of green embankments and picket fences works way better than other older concrete jungle venues (Lancaster Park, Carisbrook, and Eden Park)

And there is my in to the problem facing Auckland and New Zealand Cricket, a suitable test venue of boutique proportions in the city.  It's well documented that Eden Park is too small for serious cricket, that it sits in a residential area, parking and access are issues, and then there's the moaning neighbours.  Some have stated that Eden Park No 2 should be developed and used as a test venue but a majority of the problems will still exist so that leaves other possible venues.  So what criteria would New Zealand cricket seek for a better proposition?  Three grounds come to mind.  Two are already earmarked as cricket venues, the other is a red herring and mooted with some derision.

 Let's look at that third one, Western Springs. Yes it has a boutique feel to it, but seriously the amount of work required to get it to test match standard is huge and can Auckland Cricket afford that?  Yes it's in an area that isn't really residential but it is well documented that local neighbours have a vested interest in what goes on there.  Of the three options, to me this is a distant third.

So what of the other two?  Well it's fair to say Colin Maiden Park is a possible choice as it is a regular domestic cricket venue and has some pedigree.  But like Eden Park No 2 (and the main stadium) there would be huge issues with residential zoning, parking, and infrastructure/  Like Western Springs, huge development costs.

By my reckoning that leaves one possible venue.  It is already an established first class oval, it is not in residential zones, it has stacks of parking and very good transport connections, it's relatively in the middle of the city, it has huge room for some not too costly development, and it would tick all the boxes for a boutique test venue.
There is established changing rooms and offices for players and administrators.  A Media Centre ergo Lords could be built behind the pitches, and existing embankments further developed to cater for 8000+ patrons.  I'd wager the actual playing surface would need development as it's stood idle since the Stadium Complex was built, and maybe the playing area stretched a little for international cricket, but to me it's a goer! It's the only goer in my books.  And it would be greatly less cost for all concerned. And as the home of Auckland Test cricket another First Class ground to choose from in the city.  I'd also tend to propose that a good number of cricket fans in Auckland live on the North Shore.

Anyway, that's my two cents worth.  Everyone will have their own opinion and rightly so, but surely it's time to reevaluate Aucklands Home of Cricket and recognise a boutique test ground is the best thing for national cricket.  (Would also mean I don't cringe when I see a test match at the hopelessly inadequate Eden Park in tests).

Edited to add my proposal:

The Martin Crowe Oval

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