Oval pitch rated fourth-best in SA

2009-08-04 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Inland Cricket Union (KZNICU) received a significant boost recently with the news that the Maritzburg Oval pitch in Park Drive, Alexandra Park, was rated the equal fourth best square in the country.

The picturesque Oval’s cricket table received an 85% pass rate at the Groundsman’s Seminar and was ranked above the world-famous Wanderers in Johannesburg and equal to Kingsmead in Durban and the Test cricket venue in Bloemfontein — not a bad achievement for an Associate Union with a permanent staff of four and which has a budget that is arguably less than a third of their neighbours and competitors.

According to information supplied to The Witness, the SA pitch ranking saw SenWes Park in Potchefstroom earn a 95,3% rating, followed by St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth (85,6%), Newlands in Cape Town (85,6%), the PMB Oval (85%), Bloemfontein (85%) and Kingsmead (85%).

However, the PMB Oval outfield, which is maintained by the Msunduzi Municipality, let the side down and was rated 11th in the country on 72%, which pulled the park-like PMB venue’s overall placing down to ninth in SA on 78,9%.

The PMB Oval is owned by the Msunduzi Municipality and apart from the requirements of cricket, the venue is also hired out for dozens of functions during the year, which places nigh-impossible foot traffic on the outfield in terms of the quality needed for first-class cricket purposes.The KZNICU handles the bill incurred for the preparation of the pitch.

A pleasing aspect looking forward into the new season is that club cricket numbers have grown in the province, possibly one of the only places in the country that can boast such a fact.

In the 2007/08 season Inland had 1 589 club cricketers on its books, while in the 2008/09 season player numbers grew to 1 867.

The KZN Inland Coaches’ Association is up and running, which will help educate and improve the coaching and ultimately the playing standards in the region. The women’s section is beginning to blossom with a number of fun festivals to promote the game having taken place, and another planned for next Friday night.

It has been said before — and bears repeating: KZN Inland Cricket are seeking Affiliate Union status as there is so much potential in the region, yet the road is not easy when operating with a limited budget. Nevertheless, the signs are there that progress is being made.

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