Christchurch may be set to have its own version of the Basin Reserve, although without the traffic running around it, but a central city venue for domestic and international cricket. The Christ's College Oval at Hagley Park, behind the Riccarton Cricket Club pavilion, is set to become Canterbury's future home of cricket if plans announced by Canterbury Cricket and Christ's College come to fruition.
The plan needs Christchurch City Council approval before it can be undertaken. The school and Canterbury Cricket approached council officers who advised them that they best way to move was as part of the review of the Hagley Park Management Plan which is due to be held soon.
The ground would be available for cricket for both parties with movable seating being incorporated for major games. The school and Canterbury Cricket have entered into an agreement concerning development of the area.
The move, which has been coming since Canterbury realised they needed to find an alternative venue to the increasingly rugby-dominated Jade Stadium, was announced at the launch of the Canterbury season tonight. Another potential clash of dates has already occurred in relation to a one-day international between New Zealand and South Africa and a Super 12 match next year.
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Richard Reid said the idea was the result of the 125th jubilee match played between Canterbury and England at Hagley Oval in 2002. The public reaction to having the match there had been favourable and the event won the event of the year in the Canterbury Sports Awards.
The venue has appeal also as a prospective Test match venue, if not for the drawcard teams like England and South Africa, then certainly for lesser teams on the international circuit. With Tests this year being played at cricket specific venues, apart from Auckland, it was clear that if Canterbury wanted to hold Tests in future, having a cricket specific venue would go some way toward achieving that.
However, in recent times Canterbury crowds have not been turning out to Test matches at Jade Stadium and last year when Nathan Astle hit his world-record double century, the majority of the crowd was made up of Barmy Army fans.
International allrounder Chris Cairns is to captain Canterbury this summer. He takes the place of Gary Stead whose dropping from the role was signalled earlier in the year. How often Cairns might play will be dependent on his international commitments. He led the Nottinghamshire side during its one-day programme in English county cricket this year.