The Oval’s fortunes affect entire city

2009-03-16 00:00

FAR from discouraging the Kingsmead hierarchy from bringing quality cricket to Pietermaritzburg, yesterday’s article about the weekend’s Supersport Series clash between the visiting Cobras and the Dolphins was intended to highlight certain areas that the local union needs to touch up on in order to be a more attractive venue.

There have been several calls suggesting that yesterday’s piece did not help Inland cricket’s cause, but the criticism of the pitch was hardly misplaced.

The rock-hard strip was ideal for a limited overs contest, perhaps, but when a quality spinner such as Daryn Smit hardly gets any purchase by day four, one has to question the sportiness of the wicket.

Admittedly both sides were shorn of several leading bowlers, but some wear and tear would have at least added a new dimension to the match.

The timing of the match also did not help, with autumn starting to creep in and the light fading earlier.

Local fans who attend these matches at least deserve the chance to see a full day’s play. The organisers at Cricket South Africa have left the Dolphins in the lurch as far as this is concerned.

Four of their early season games were at home, again at a time when the early dusk curtailed the cricket.

It is small wonder that the Dolphins have drawn all their matches, as they have hardly got anywhere near a full day’s play in their home ties.

Dolphins’ manager of playing affairs Jay Naidoo said they have brought this issue up with CSA, but to no avail.

It must be stated that The Witness fully backs Inland Cricket’s bid to become a regular venue for the Dolphins, not least to avoid the arduous drive to Kingsmead every now and then!

For one, the Oval is in close proximity to several of the province’s top cricket nurseries, whose pupils would no doubt benefit from an afternoon of watching South Africa’s future stars in action.

The public are, save for Maritzburg United’s involvement in the PSL, starved of top live sport, and they turn up to watch the Dolphins in any competition.

Thus the need for regular franchise cricket affects the entire city, and not just the powers that be at the Oval.

The floodlights have been deemed not strong enough for televised night matches, but one would hope that this situation also gets some attention in due course.

Certainly, a 45-over day-nighter or even a Pro20 clash on a Friday night would be sold out within days if the oppotunity arose.

With the off-season nigh upon us, it is perhaps time for a local think-tank to come up with solutions to make the picturesque Oval an even more attractive option to the Dolphins.

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