Ian Smith says it's time to bury the hatchet and stop playing the blame game after the debacle early this month which robbed cricket lovers of international entertainment.
"I think if we're looking for a scapegoat it's probably a bit late now," Smith said last night, after officially opening the $50,000 training nets at Cornwall Cricket Club in Hastings where he is the patron.
"They've had the inquiries and the game's gone," said 59-year-old former Black Caps wicketkeeper after game two of the Chapple-Hadlee Series was abandoned without a ball bowled due to an outfield unfit to play on Thursday, February 2, following some morning drizzle.
Smith said the Bay still provided a magical venue when the weather gods were smiling.
"I mean it's a beautiful pitch and the groundsman has been responsible for that a decade or more," he said of head groundsman Phil Stoyanoff, whose pedigree is such that marquee venues in India used to fly him across to the subcontinent to prepare their strips.
The Sky TV commentator couldn't recall ever meeting a batsman leaving McLean Park aggrieved about his innings on the wicket.
"Bowlers have to work hard on there but they enjoy their rewards so I think it's a fair surface and a really good one-day or T20 surface for that reason."
He was loath to point a finger at anyone for the sporting disaster although he made allowances for the fact that there might have been some human errors.
"You know, for the sake of going forward don't cut off your nose to spite your face.
"If the person who is making that facility has made it so good for such a long time than you've got be a bit careful, I think.
"It's very sad for all concerned. We're a small area compared to some and we don't get that many opportunities to have world-class players on our stage, so it was hugely sad to sit there and look out the window with fellow commentators and just look at what was going on out there, and the crowd just building and building their expectations and then being badly let down.
"I thought it was a really kick-in-the-guts sort of a day for that reason."
Smith said the independent inquiry had established on Tuesday a need for urgent remedial work on the venue's turf, drainage and irrigation system.
The New Zealand Cricket and Napier City Council-commissioned inquiry recommended a total replacement of the playing surface, drainage and irrigation system on top of an existing commitment to build drop-in pitches, improve the lighting and build practice facilities on the site.
The parties agreed it was in the best interests of McLean Park's cricketing future to move the ODI against South Africa on March 1 to Seddon Park, Hamilton, to avoid what has been described as "an unacceptable risk" of a repeat drainage failure.
Fans who had bought tickets to the Proteas game in Napier will receive full refunds.
Smith said the venue and its fans had been terribly unlucky because everyone knew what the weather was like before and after February 2.
"It's an outdoor sport so maybe we need to look at those problem areas and whether they have been a problem in the past," he said, adding there was a need to zero in on the surrounds that caused players consternation.
"If we have then perhaps we should have bigger covers and make sure those problem areas are covered this time around so, maybe, we probably missed the boat there."
Smith was looking forward to more opportunities on the completion of the proposed upgrading of the McLean Park outfield.
"Hopefully we'll just come up with the playing surfaces that all international players will be happy with when they leave here."
NZ Cricket, he felt, should have stuck with McLean Park for the South Africa ODI considering its attributes.
"I believe they could have said, you know, we know your plight but we know the area is so dry and you get very few opportunities.
"Yes, I think they could have run with that and taken a punt."
Smith said weather governed cricket and it wasn't anything anyone could do about it.
While luck had deserted McLean Park two or three times, NZ Cricket should not have held that against the venue.
"I was disappointed because the later they left it the more I thought they were going to play here.
"When it was announced a couple of weeks out I was quite surprised that they were shifting it.
"I thought the longer they had left it the knee-jerk reaction would have gone and they might have taken a slightly different attitude towards it."
Having heard Napier mayor Bill Dalton and New Zealand Cricket chief operating officer Anthony Crummy, it sounded like they were on the same wavelength that it was the right decision.
"Who am I, just a Havelock North resident, to disagree with them. They have looked at it more closely than me."
Smith said it was a lose-lose situation for the fans.
"A lot of them would have left thinking, 'Okay we've got South Africa. Okay it didn't work tonight [against Australia]'," he said, referring to fans who had travelled a long way.
"At least they had another chance against South Africa but that has been snuffed away against them and that hadn't been their fault either."
Smith questioned whether those disillusioned fans wouldn't return and hoped not.
"I feel sorry for people with corporate facilities who were not able to use it on a good day and a good night."
He said it was also a very costly exercise for Sky TV to shift things so they would have been happy to stay here as well.
Smith said some of the teething problems at McLean Park would have been resolved had more cricket matches been staged there.
"I feel sorry for Hawke's Bay cricketers who don't get to play at the home of Hawke's Bay sport," he said, reflecting on his playing days when cricketers relished competing at McLean Park during Hawke Cup matches.
"You're not going to get big crowds but then you don't get big crowds at Nelson Park [across the road] either.
"There may be a rental or cost issue with the council. I don't know about the nuts, bolts and figures involved there but, in terms of cricket, I know where I'd rather play."
Cornwall club stalwart David Black said last night the training nets at the picturesque park had officially marked the end of a 113-year era.
"We just don't have the volunteers these days," said Black, reflecting as former club director of cricket who rolled up his sleeves every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for training as well as on home game days to put up nets.
"Sometimes players weren't to keen to help with no grounding in scouting or camping and they'd put the pegs in back to front," he said with a laugh.
Rolling up the artificial turf was a task in itself before it was loaded on to a trailer and stacked in the store room at the clubhouse, not to mention funny stories about players having to fish out balls from the adjacent creek.
Smith, who played for the former Old Boys' Hastings before the merger, said the new facilities were amazing.
"It was the time when the pavilion was a ramshackle of a thing and you couldn't fit 11 guys in there to change at the same time," he said with a grin.
Smith said he travelled a lot and the current pavilion was among the best in the country.
"We now have a net situation which is something to behold, to be honest," he said, adding it was an opportunity for coaches and kids to be involved with the game all year round.
The key to practice, Smith said, was that when players left the nets they tended to feel better than when they walked in.
"The top players say they often never have a full net because they know that if they're hitting the ball right and well they're okay then why run the risk."