October 3, 2000

Future looking bright for Kiwi cricket

Cricket in New Zealand is on track.

That's the verdict offered by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Christopher Doig in his annual report, which was released today.

"Considerable progress has been made in recent years and international credibility both on and off the field is being achieved and developed.

"There is, though, absolutely no room for complacency," Doig warned.

This was seen when having beaten the West Indies so comprehensively last summer, New Zealand was shown how much more work needed to be done by Australia.

"We sad in the home series against Australia that we are still short of the standard required to beat the very best," Doig said.

"This series was without doubt one of the most compelling and demanding home series for years, full of positive and competitive cricket from both teams.

"The Australian team's resolve and complete attention to detail, combined with great self-belief, ensured a comprehensive series victory in both Tests and ODI's."

Among the issues facing cricket are venues and their availability for cricket.

"Cricket administrators throughout the country are battling venue availability, the competition for the entertainment dollar and the greater sophistication demanded by the public in terms of their expectation of service at grounds," he said.

Cricket had a responsibility to ensure its stakeholders' interests were understood and met in these often complex debates. It also had to strive for a balance between those expectations and the realistic needs of the venues and other codes.

"The recent approval by the International Cricket Council of the portable wickets provides greater prospect for flexibility, and it is to be hoped that this development will contribute to easing the pressure imposed on the venues by competing rugby and cricket schedules," Doig said.

He also signalled satisfaction with steady improvements being recorded in pitch qualities around the country and continued professionalism in this area would be vital to on-going improvement as a cricket nation.

"Redeveloped venues at Eden Park, WestpacTrust Stadium Wellington, Jade Stadium and the promise of major upgrading at WestpacTrust Park in Hamilton is exciting, providing we have continued access to them during the whole cricket season and their development is not at the expense of preserving, maintaining and continuing to foster great traditional venues such as the Basin Reserve," he said.

Development work by NZC has taken significant steps forward.

"The past 12 months have seen the initial steps towards the full integration of a comprehensive development programme introduced on a national scale under the careful guidance of the National Development Manager, Alec Astle.

"Many Associations now have a number of development officers working in the regions, promoting the game of cricket and providing young primary school girls, boys and teachers with resources to encourage them into our sport.

"This has been an enormous undertaking for Alec Astle in the production of resource material and detailed planning of programmes.

"Cricket administrators have historically confused development and coaching to the extent where resources have been exclusively put into the coaching side of our sport.

"It is reassuring to see how enthusiastically the concept of development has now been embraced by those sceptics who questioned its value initially," Doig said.

The High Performance Centre at Lincoln University continues to play a leading role for refining, modifying and expanding the training and education of young men and women cricketers.

"The facilities have been expanded recently to include the development of a new pavilion on the BIL Oval, the new major ground which hosted a significant number for First Class and New Zealand 'A' games last season.

"The BIL Academy this year has been modified to include a more comprehensive playing programme designed to add value to former graduates of the Academy who were deemed to be knocking on the door of international representation.

"Tours to Australia, England and India are planned as part of this new emphasis. An evaluation process will be completed at the end of this winter period to determine whether this sort of programme should be managed every third or fourth year within an expanded Academy programme," he said.

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