Cricket ground on front foot

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Turf doctor: Geoff Andrew at the upgraded John Davies Oval in Queenstown

International cricket can now return to Queenstown.

A $640,000 upgrade to improve drainage on the Queenstown Events Centre’s main oval has been completed by local firm TIC Projects Ltd.

The new grass is still growing in and the first games will probably be played on the ground this summer.

Queenstown council’s parks and reserves boss Stephen Quin says there are already discussions about high-profile cricket returning to the ground.

“I can’t make any announcements at this stage.”

The John Davies Oval, as it is known, might also host other sports and events, such as concerts.

“It allows the community to get more use out of it, because with the sand profile, it has much better drainage properties.”

The catalyst for the upgrade was an Otago Volts Plunket Shield cricket game against Wellington in February 2015, which was abandoned because of a waterlogged outfield.

Yesterday, the teams’ names were still on the scoreboard.

The ground now has 90mm of sand over an extensive drainage system, developed specifically for sports fields.

The turf incorporates an endophyte fungi that repels birds and the cricket block has been widened to add two strips.

TIC owner Geoff Andrew says there was a good run of dry weather during construction and in the last two months there has been enough rain to spark grass germination and growth.

Water drains to a sump below the scoreboard and then to a soak pit.

“In the past, the surface water never got there.”

Auckland company Sports Surface Design and Management designed the upgrade.

The picturesque venue hosted nine one-day internationals from 2003 to 2014.

Most famously, Black Caps batsman Corey Anderson smashed a world-record century off 36 balls in 2014 – a mark bettered in 2015 by South African AB de Villiers.

Otago Daily Times