EASTERN Oval is the perfect setting to develop this city’s cricket ambitions.
A fully-fledged Women’s Big Bash League match at the ground, announced this week, is a much-deserved reward for Ballarat.
News of this fixture alone was one of The Courier’s top performing stories this week. Coincidence or not, Melbourne Renegades made the call amid a week in which the Australian women’s cricket team has served up a commanding, three-match televised series against New Zealand.
The women’s game is rapidly getting bigger and bigger and hype about Ballarat for WBBL in December is a show there is a strong appetite for women’s cricket in this region.
And we have plenty we can offer.
While the Renegades and Adelaide Strikers might not be a televised Bash from Ballarat, every WBBL game will be streamed live online and be called on radio.
Ballarat’s Eastern Oval will be beamed back on the national cricket map.
Eastern Oval has set the picturesque scene for elite cricket many summers. Most notably, more than 12,000 fans packed the ground to watch England take on Sri Lanka in a World Cup game in March, 1992.
WG Grace, an Englishman regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time, has a tree planted in his name next to the grandstand after having declared Eastern Oval in the 1870s as one of the most English grounds in Australia.
Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting also planted a tree at the ground in his name.
We have an impressive, modern boutique stadium in town – and yes, we do need to step up its use – but WBBL will show not every big sporting event we get need be about Mars Stadium.
Renegades chief Stuart Coventary flagged with The Courier this week he was open to the prospect of bringing the men’s BBL to Mars Stadium, it would be fair to say we still have a bit of work to do in this space to make this a reality – and not just in the great expense of dropping in a pitch.
Geelong has been making a far stronger case to host in-season BBL since the competition outset, including repeated bids for its own franchise. The Cattery finally managed to claim a match last summer, and this summer is preparing to host two, in part due to a longer BBL season and a little more wriggle room for the Renegades to play away from their Marvel Stadium base.
We are not out of the question and yes, we should be pushing for bigger events to capitalise on Mars, but first need to showcase our cricket-hosting ability and there is no better place to start than where we do this best.
Eastern Oval hosted a Renegades outfit featuring the likes of Sri Lankan star Muttiah Muralitharan for a three-day camp and packed out practice match in 2013. Game-day featured portable big screens, music, big hitting and hype cricket’s short, sharp format delivers so well.
We have a chance to pack the ground out again for the WBBL, at the home of the region’s strongest junior female cricket program. What a perfect way to get elite cricket runs back on the board in Ballarat.
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