Grounds tracking well for day one

Cricket pitches around the Ballarat region are progressing better than this time last year as the Ballarat Cricket Association continues to prepare the wickets for round one on October 7.

This time 12 months ago, Ballarat was hit hard by rain and the flow-on effect was the cancellation of the opening three weeks of the 2016-17 cricket season.

Ballarat Cricket Association operations officer Greg Wakeling said all going to plan round one would run as expected. As is always the case, the condition of the grounds is largely in the hands of the weather, but Wakeling assured all cricketers the progress was well-ahead of last year’s headache.

East Ballarat's Josh Brown

East Ballarat's Josh Brown

“We’re in front of where we were this time last year...in theory, if the weather does fine-up and dry-out a little bit we’re hoping to start on time,” Wakeling said.

“I’ve been told the turf preparations are coming along pretty well.”

While the BCA is yet to have a full pitch report from all grounds given some still have football to be played on them, weather permitting the October 7 start was looking good.

One factor causing difficulty to fixturing is the lack of available grounds. The redevelopments of Eastern Oval and Buninyong were known, but the recent replacement of the Dunnstown pitch and damage to a Vic Park wicket has thrown a curve-ball the way of the BCA.

Wakeling said it was “not ideal” but access to St Patrick’s College’s number two oval would prove extremely helpful – Golden Point set to utilise it has its home ground with Eastern Oval out of action. While if more grounds were needed come round one it would just be a matter of sourcing those at the time.

Wakeling said it was “short-term pain for long-term gain” in regards to Eastern Oval. He said there was a slight chance it could be ready to host a home and away match late in the season, if not, the plan was to be ready come the finals.

“It’s for a good purpose, it’ll be the regional cricket hub and it’s going to be an amazing facility by the end of it.”