New Zealand news May 5, 2014

Traffic flyover threatens Basin Reserve

ESPNcricinfo staff

A proposed traffic flyover could threaten the international future of the Basin Reserve in Wellington, according to former players.

The New Zealand Transport Agency plans to build a two-lane highway flyover 20 metres north of the ground and while a 12-metre high pavilion would also be constructed to block the flyover from view, small glimpses could still be visible to the sides of the pavilion.

Former chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, Martin Snedden, has voiced his concerns that traffic movement outside the 40-degree area from the batsman's view could still be distracting and potentially dangerous, and that it could lead to players and spectators abandoning the venue.

"A fielder at mid-off is not permitted to wave their arms when a bowler is preparing to deliver a ball, despite that fielder being well outside this 40-degree area," Snedden said. "Cricket balls are very hard. Impact on the human body of a fast-moving cricket ball can cause serious injury and even death. Ewen Chatfield, a former New Zealand Test match player, was nearly killed by being struck in the temple by a ball in a Test match in 1974."

Don Neely, the former Wellington captain and cricket historian, said the sight of moving traffic from the playing surface could do irreparable damage to the Basin Reserve's character and could lead to the end of Test cricket at the ground.

"Spectators could decide to vote with their feet and choose not to come to games," Neely said. "Ultimately, the Basin relies on attracting spectators for its ongoing existence. The Basin Reserve could lose its raison d'etre if cricket should cease to be played there ... nothing would be sadder for Wellington than to see this important historical and cultural symbol become a faded monument to the past."

Sir John Anderson, the former NZC chairman who represented the country on the ICC board for more than a decade, said the flyover could be considered a "major renovation" by the ICC, which would lead to the ground's Test status needing to be reviewed after the completion of the project in 2017.

"The [flyover], without sufficient mitigation, runs a small but very real risk of the ICC status of New Zealand's premier Test match ground being taken away," Anderson said.

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