Lack of cricket leads to despair
THE lack of cricket in Lismore over the past summer has left Craig Ferguson worried about cricket's future in the town.
The Lismore District Junior Cricket Association committee member and Far North Coast Cricket chairman of selectors was left red-faced after 10 games in the under-16 Lismore District Cricket competition were washed out from January 27 to February 24.
This meant all games bar one in the town were washed out over the course of three competition rounds.
He also pointed out his disappointment at taking the field for the Marist Brothers outfit that he captains during a Far North Coast Cricket LJ Hooker League fixture against Terranora at Bilambil on November 19 and 26.
This game went ahead, while a match at Oakes Oval, Lismore that involved Workers Goonellabah and the Casino Cavaliers in that same round was washed out.
"It's got to the point now where I don't even try to defend myself any more to other sides that come to town," Ferguson said.
"I just tell other people I'm embarrassed."
Ferguson believes the issue comes down to not being allowed by Lismore City Council to leave covers on pitches.
"If it rains they won't let us leave covers on pitches because they can kill the grass," he said.
"Nitro fertiliser can fix that but that costs money.
"A classic example is when we (Marist Brothers) played Terranora at Bilambil (on November 19 and 26 in the Far North Coast Cricket LJ Hooker League).
"There was some rain about back then but they covered their wicket on Monday before using a big cover on Wednesday.
"But we're not allowed to do that.
"In that same round, the cricket in Lismore (Workers Goonellabah v Casino Cavaliers) was called off due to rain.
"I don't think we get any flexibility from Lismore council. All we get is a 'no' and I feel hamstrung at the moment."
Ferguson rates Oakes Oval the state's premier cricket venue north of Sydney.
"But we can't get a game on the damn thing," he said.
A spokesperson from Lismore City Council said:
"The management of the covering of cricket pitches is the responsibility of the LDCA and the individual clubs.
"In respect to mowing and maintenance, council will do everything it can to ensure that matches go ahead despite the weather.
"However, council can only mow and maintain grounds when these activities will not cause damage to the facilities due to wet grounds, and when it is safe for council staff to do so."
Ferguson also expressed his dismay at Richards Oval being taken away from the Lismore District Cricket Association, with the council planning to use it as an all-purpose soccer venue.
Mortimer Oval (Rec 8) will be a new turf-wicket cricket ground, with the Lismore Swans to play Aussie rules there in the winter.
But from next summer onwards, Nesbitt Park's turf wicket will no longer be used for cricket games.
"As a cricket organiser and player I'm really worried about our future," Ferguson said.
"You look at the Rec 8 ground. The new pitch was put in there in mid-December but it wasn't until a week or two ago that grass was put on the pitch. We could be playing there now instead of having to move games elsewhere.
"I don't mean to point my finger at the council and its staff, who work so hard. I just want to provoke some discussion.
"That is because without basic facilities, cricket cannot move forward."
The council spokesperson said the Lismore District Cricket Association was consulted about its plans for Richards Oval and Nesbitt Park.
"Council last year completed its 10-year Sport and Recreation Plan following considerable consultation with the community, with the aim of considering the most suitable use of council's sport and recreational resources," the spokesperson said.
"The details regarding Richards Oval and Nesbitt Park were examined during that process."
The spokesperson also said Mortimer Oval would be available for cricket next summer, weather permitting.