Scoop: Queenstown should have got a game

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Some anger over Queenstown missing out on Cricket World Cup is very understandable – but is that anger justified?

With New Zealand allocated seven venues for the 2015 World Cup, which the country’s co-hosting with Australia, you’d have thought Queenstown’s picturesque Events Centre out at Frankton stood a right royal show.

The ground’s already successfully staged eight one-day internationals, though the odd one’s been badly rain-affected.

Just six months ago, English cricketers and scribes were raving about the ground which sits under the stunning Remarkables mountain range as one of the most impressive in the world.

No less a cricketing star than former NZ captain Daniel Vettori told Mountain Scene two years ago that the Events Centre pitch was one of the best in the country for one-dayers and would be “a great Test match venue”.

Yet when NZ’s venues were announced last week, Queenstown was conspicuously missing.

So what went wrong?

It seems clear that Queenstown missed out to newcomer Nelson, whose council juiced up its bid with, wait for it, $900,000.

As mayor Vanessa van Uden said this week, there’s no way Queenstown’s ratepayers would have condoned that sort of hand-out.

Maybe some cash-rich local interests could have helped, if you’ll excuse the pun, stump up, but remember the event will be held during February and March in 2015, which is typically a tourist high season.

The Christchurch Press newspaper last weekend quoted an anonymous source saying Queenstown’s hosting bid was “a little arrogant”.

Van Uden predictably swatted that away, but according to a little dicky bird – though not the famous cricket umpire Dickie Bird – Queenstown’s bid could have come across that way because we stipulated games we wanted, like one involving hotshots India or England or an opening fixture.

Both council boss Adam Feeley and steering group chairman Russ Mawhinney also may have come across a trifle arrogant with their public comments last week, after Queenstown missed out.

Feeley and Mawhinney each said the resort missing out wasn’t just unfortunate for Queenstown but for NZ as well – but it’s not as if the rest of the country really gives a tinker’s cuss.

But both have a point – those images of that ground seemingly at the foot of the Remarkables are a top advertisement for the country. It will miss out.

A colleague recalls being on a stag do in Sydney during a Super rugby fixture at the Events Centre involving the Highlanders. Upon walking into a Balmain bar with 20 Australians, he says one bloke looked at the screen, saw the venue and was so blown away by it that he remarked: “Where the hell is that?!”

But getting back to the cricket, the other reason for missing out on the Cricket World Cup was said to be logistics, as in the cost of broadcasting from here.

Undoubtedly, that’s very true – even though the resort has a large film community that could possibly help out.
Queenstown just has to hope that, as with Rugby World Cup, we can pitch up for some pre-Cup training camps, which usually include a practice game or two.

One consolation is that the Events Centre remains high on NZ Cricket’s pecking order of grounds – we’re highly fancied to host a West Indies one-day international this summer.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain.