The announcement last week that Cricket World Cup games will be played in Nelson has rocketed Saxton Oval into contention for more international action.
Saxton Oval will host three world cup games in 2015 and don’t be surprised if another announcement sees the BlackCaps playing here this summer, most likely against the West Indies.
Therese Walsh, New Zealand’s head of the Cricket World Cup, believes it is likely that the venue, now deemed one of the country’s top seven cricket grounds, will get a test run before the tournament. “We’re certainly looking for test opportunities whether New Zealand Cricket provides those or not I don’t know,” she says. “But if they didn’t, we’d look to work with them to find some opportunity to test the ground once it’s fully accredited.”
Nelson was the surprise package at last Tuesday’s tournament fixture and venue announcement, getting three matches featuring West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and two other nations.
In the past, Saxton Oval’s most high profile fixtures have included a women’s international and first class domestic cricket, but despite that Therese labelled Nelson City Council’s bid as “excellent” and says it really stood out.
“Firstly Saxton Oval, because it’s a beautiful, quality venue and it looks ready for some international cricket but the overall Nelson’s bid document was really good and it was clear Nelson was passionate.”
Construction on Saxton Oval only started a few years ago and was thanks in part to the foresight by local cricket supporters and Nelson City councillors at the time. It was only finished in 2011 when the cricket and athletics pavilion was completed.
The asset now looks set to pay off big time with Nelson Cricket submitting an expression of interest to host international games over the next three years. General manager Ed Shuttleworth says they were eagerly waiting to hear if that bid has also been successful. “Nelson Cricket is continually looking to bring international cricket to Saxton Oval and I am optimistic this profile will assist us in reaching the goal shortly,” he says.
Nelson mayor Aldo Miccio, who attended Tuesday’s launch, says the Cricket World Cup will be the jewel in Nelson’s crown over the next few years. “It’s going to hit all of the same buttons that the Rugby World Cup did in terms of a community festival and an economic driver. It’s very exciting,” he says.
Aldo also backed Nelson’s chances of international cricket being played at Saxton Oval before the world cup. “New Zealand Cricket has big plans for Nelson, and Nelson Cricket has been working a long time with them. We’re hoping that we’ll get some international cricket here this summer to test it out.”