Poor scheduling of field maintenance put a dampener on the start of the Armidale District Cricket Association’s new season.
Newling 1 and 2, Lambert Park and Jack Vallance were aerated by Armidale Regional Council a week before the season was due to start, a date which was set in May.
As a consequence, all second grade matches were cancelled. Association president Mike Porter was left livid with having to halt the competition.
“Then on Friday they didn't have anyone to mow the fields, someone was on an rostered day off and didn't mow them, it was just a diabolical mess,” he said.
“We let them know and we try and work with them all the time and they just do not seem to want to co-operate and make an effort or care about sport.”
Lambert Park was the worst affected with the coring significantly impacting the surface.
“Lambert Park looks like a moonscape at the moment, just bloody holes everywhere. One of the council blokes said to me 'they won't hurt their ankles, it's nice and soft' and I said 'I am not worried about them hurting their ankles, I am worried about being hit in the face by a ball that bounces up off the grass' but he just couldn't understand that,” Porter said.
“Lambert Park, all it has in winter is soccer training as well, it could have been done weeks ago. They have been watering it ever since trying to get it all to settle down but it is not happening.”
The local association are scheduled to host three representative carnivals over the summer giving the town a major economical boost.
Porter lamented if poor scheduling of maintenance continued, it could interfere with the town’s potential of securing the rights to host more state-level tournaments.
“It is not good enough that we are trying to bring events to Armidale, cricket and other sporting events, and they have just treated us like this,” he said.
“Sporting people seem to be treated as second-class citizens to some degree, like we are a bloody nuisance.
“I am not just picking on cricket, I am on the sports council as well. I am just frustrated there is not more interaction between the council and the sports.”
Council’s Program Leader Park and Facilities Richard Morsley said the grounds hadn’t been aerated in a number of years and they had limited opportunity to get the job done.
“We are still trialing the use of the machine and the most suitable time to aerate the playing fields,” he said.
“We have such a short window of opportunity between when football finishes and cricket starts and this time we probably underestimated the time the playing fields would take to get back to normal conditions.
“The fields have also not been aerated for many years which has seen them become very compacted, which when combined with using the machine lifted the soil more than would ordinarily happen. We plan to consult with sporting organisations to determine the most suitable time to complete this necessary maintenance in the future.”