Queenstown Events Centre continues to be lauded as the world’s best cricket venue even though it’s nearly six years since it last hosted a men’s international.
The latest in a line of cricket greats to extol John Davies Oval is England’s most prolific Test batsman, former captain Sir Alastair Cook.
Interviewed at last week’s Wimbledon BookFest in London, he was asked which ground he’d take to his desert island outside his native Essex.
He flirted with Newlands, in South Africa, but then settled on Queenstown.
This summer, NZ hosts drawcards England, India and Australia.
Twenty games will be played over eight venues, but Queenstown’s again been left high and dry, leaving local fans like Russell Mawhinney and Robin Martin stumped.
Mawhinney’s heard various excuses why Queenstown doesn’t get a game – “too expensive to get here, inadequate media facilities, no indoor training facility”.
“I’ve never heard ones like – the players don’t like coming here, the pitch is no good, the outfield is no good”.
In fact, Queenstown’s council’s stumped up $640,000 to bring the oval up to international standard, though community sport was the main driver.
“It’s hard to fault the grounds that do get international matches, but there has to be a better way to allocate these matches so fans throughout the whole country get a fair go.”
Martin, a consultant, believes “we should be doing everything possible to get all parties on our side – particularly NZ Cricket, to use some of its recently-acquired funding from Spark – and institute a strong push to get international cricket back to Queenstown”.
Queenstown has the event management expertise and tourism/accommodation infrastructure to host games, he says, while TV coverage would bring great economic benefits.
Local councillor and sports lover Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson says it’s sad the resort’s missing out, “but I think in terms of infrastructure, cost to the community to put it on and what NZ Cricket demands, I just don’t think we’re in that league at the moment”.
He’d strongly support a pitch to get cricket back, but he believes other venues have overtaken Queenstown – “we are way down the batting order at the moment”.