City council reshuffle frustrates cricket

By John Cousins

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Restructuring at Tauranga City Council is making it harder to ensure selection as a venue for the Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament, a cricket official says.

Bay of Plenty Cricket Trust general manager Kelvin Jones said the organisation used to deal with the council's events team led by Peter Melgren but as his job no longer existed cricket no longer had this point of contact anymore.

Although Mr Jones was still "very hopeful" that Tauranga would be named as the North Island hub for the tournament next January, Hamilton had already agreed terms with New Zealand Cricket whereas BOP Cricket had still not secured the Blake Park grounds for the event.

"The council used to have an events team and Peter was fantastic to go to for these things. There is no Peter."

Mayor Stuart Crosby said the issue revolved around demands by New Zealand Cricket to have total control of a public domain. It was a technicality in the Reserves Act. "There is a solution to this issue and New Zealand Cricket was talking directly to the council. Everyone wants to make it happen."

Mr Crosby said the BOP Cricket Trust had been stuck in the middle and that was what had frustrated Mr Jones.

On the wider issue, the mayor said he was working with the council's chief executive Garry Poole to ensure the new organisation was supporting events.

Meanwhile, the council last week agreed to BOP Cricket's request to fund the $35,000 cost of the new cricket block next to Blake Park's cricket oval to accommodate the tournament. The grant was on condition the trust successfully secured the qualifying tournament. The month-long tournament will feature 10 non-test playing nations vying for the last two places in the 2015 World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand. Winning selection would help celebrate the completion of the trust's new $2.65 million pavilion at the oval due for completion in October.

Council recreation relationships manager Kiri Pope said one of the key requirements of the oval was that it would not be solely for cricket and it would be used for junior sports.

Construction of the new cricket block was under way and had been funded in the interim from money for the pavilion so the Bay could stay in contention to host the qualifying tournament. Mr Jones said the trust was comfortable with the council's proviso that the $35,000 was conditional on getting the tournament.

Meanwhile, a report to the council said the Mount Cricket wicket block on Blake Park would be "rendered unusable" when a new carpark was built during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years. It was expected the block would be removed for the 2014-15 season.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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