Stumped over cricket snub

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Queenstown cricket fans are miffed at missing out on international action this coming summer – but a councillor says other destinations are spending more to snag games.

The Events Centre’s John Davies Oval hosted nine Under-19 Cricket World Games early this year.

That’s after the council stumped up $640,00 to bring the oval – considered one of the world’s most scenic – up to international standard.

New Zealand Cricket, however, hasn’t allocated Queenstown even one of this summer’s 26 men’s and women’s internationals.

Local businessman Sir John Davies, who helped establish the centre in the ’90s, says “I’m disappointed and it’s very sad”.

“It’s good for tourism to see Queenstown [beamed] all around the world on TV screens, and the ground is great.

“It’s interesting that the rugby people take a Test to Nelson [last Saturday], you’d think [NZ Cricket] would be bringing cricket to areas like Queenstown.”

Queenstowner Ian Paterson, NZ Cricket’s liaison officer for visiting teams, is also disappointed but suggests costs could be a factor.

“Particularly over the last couple of [summers], obviously accommodation rates are extremely high.

“When you’ve got to bring a large group in – a couple of teams, that’s 40 to 50-odd rooms, and then all of the Sky Sport people, and a huge amount of logistics – it becomes a fairly costly exercise.”

Another local, former first-class cricketer John Cushen, is also disappointed.

“It’s a spectacular ground, and talking to some of the Black Caps like Brendon [McCullum] and those guys, they love playing here, as do international teams like England.”

Sports nut Cr Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson says “other centres have gone past us in terms of providing real first-class facilities”.

He’s talking things like scoreboards, media facilities – “we have portacoms dotted around the oval” – and larger changing rooms.

The ground also doesn’t have lighting for night matches which India – one of this summer’s visiting teams – demands.

“As an individual councillor, we’ve got to be mindful where we want to spend our money.

“Do we want to bid and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a one-day international at a period in time when we are busy anyway?”

NZ Cricket public affairs manager Richard Boock adds: “The cost of overlay and temporary structures in the ground, accommodation costs and the competition from other venues mean it is challenging to play matches at Queenstown, but it doesn’t mean that things won’t change in years to come.

“There’s no suggestion that Queenstown’s been sidelined.”

He also points out the lack of lights.