October 19, 2000

Artificial pitch allows greater use of Hamilton ground

Northern Districts' plan to raise awareness of an identifiable regional culture in its cricket has been the reason behind putting an artificial wicket down at WestpacTrust Park in Hamilton.

The home ground of the Northern Districts Cricket Association is not used often enough by lower graded teams and chief executive John Turkington wants more representative teams to play on the ground.

"We've put the artificial wicket on the edge of the pitch block. It is quite a common practice on grounds in England now and will not have any effect on the ground for international matches," he said.

"We want the park available for more levels of cricket.

"We are trying to allow under-14 and under-15 teams to appreciate the Northern Districts culture by allowing them to get to know their headquarters. Our players are drawn from such a wide area that not all of them get the chance to play in Hamilton regularly, if at all.

"With only grass wickets there before, the ground was only available for top cricket and we were not able to use the park as much as we would like," he said.

The move to develop the culture has been reflected among member associations who have sent first-class players with teams to age-group tournaments.

"We subsidise the travel and accommodation costs of the players to their associations. It gives the players a feel of identity with the senior players, while it also gives those players an idea of how things are going down in the age groups," Turkington said.