It was a bleak day in more ways than one for Cricket Wanganui yesterday with the resignation of general manager Dilan Raj.
While the bleak weather put a dampener on the day, Raj's resignation to take up a position with the Manawatu Cricket Association left a cloud hanging over the future of the sport in Whanganui.
From November 1, Raj will be the new director of cricket in Manawatu, a role that will not be completely unfamiliar to him.
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Raj is well known to many cricket communities through his role with Cricket Wanganui and his various coaching roles with both Central Districts Cricket and New Zealand Cricket.
But his loss to Whanganui may not be as drastic as first thought.
Simon Aitken, treasurer of the Wanganui Cricket Association, put Raj's move south in perspective.
"For the past 13 years Dilan has driven the sport in Whanganui now moves on to Manawatu and central districts cricket," Aitken said.
"We have always worked closely with CD and will continue to do so. Given that there is going to be a greater level of co-operation and understanding with Dilan at the helm down there. The Wanganui association will obviously need to evaluate what is needed as we move forward and, in fact, we are already in that process behind the scenes. We will continue that process in more depth over the coming weeks.
"With Dilan working in Manawatu he will not be totally lost to us, so it should be a smooth transition."
Raj will leave an enviable legacy difficult to top, although he will continue to be a large part of one of proudest achievements - the Whanganui Summer Festival of Cricket.
"I will continue to run the festival at least next year anyway," Raj said.
"I'm really proud of the festival and how it has grown into one of the biggest fundraisers Whanganui cricket has. At it's peak we had 60-70 teams competing at the age group tournament and many of our finest female cricketers have developed immensely because of it.
"But the biggest thing achieved during my tenure is turning around an $80,000 deficit. It was a daunting prospect when I arrived 13 years ago and while it took some time - about eight years - we managed to turn it around without increasing subscriptions. I am really proud of that. Our ability to hold club subs at these levels for the last 10 years has been immensely satisfying. Clubs still only pay 25 per cent of the actual cost of running the grounds and facilities that keep the game going in our region," Raj said.
The Coastal Cricket Challenge is another proud achievement spearheaded by Whanganui under Raj's watch.
"Club cricket was flatlining five years ago, but Coastal Cricket has rejuvenated club cricket in the region."
The ability of junior cricket to punch well above its weight on the national stage is also largely down to Raj and his dedication to grassroots cricket.
"Our age group teams are very competitive, especially the U17s who have consistently been among the top three - they won the CD tournament last year," Raj said.
Raj's influence has not stopped at the Whanganui border. He has worked with many of the talented Manawatu cricketers over the last 10 years including Manawatu Black Caps George Worker, Adam Milne and many of the CD Stags and CD Hinds.
Raj's cricket coaching career includes recent roles as director of cricket at Whanganui Collegiate, as a high performance coach for NZ Cricket and as CD U17 boys coach.
This year Raj was named Central Districts U19 women's coach, a role he will continue in alongside the MCA director of coaching role.
Originally from Sri Lanka, Raj's playing career featured first class and List A cricket for Zimbabwe, before moving to New Zealand in 2000.
MCA general manager James Lovegrove is pleased to fill the large hole left by Dave Meiring with a fantastic candidate who brings a wealth of experience and a range of new ideas to coaching.
"What made Dilan stand out in the interviews was his enthusiasm for district cricket and his proven record of supporting players on their representative pathway. Equally important to the MCA is Raj's experience with the female cricket pathway and his commitment to junior cricket. Dilan Raj is a very well-respected cricket guru, who we know will enjoy working with the MCA team," Lovegrove said.
Jacob Oram has been announced as head coach of the senior men's team.
Lovegrove is excited to have the former World No.1 all-rounder in this role for the remainder of 2019.
However, in 2020 Oram has commitments with the White Ferns (bowling coach) and the Black Caps (fielding coach for the Australian tour) so the coaching role will be taken over by Raj for the second half of the season.