Captain says venue is ‘unfit’ for cricket

Colac's Western Oval

Cricket at Colac’s Western Oval

A COLAC district cricket captain says Western Oval is unfit to host Division One cricket.

Irrewarra skipper Leighton Hart slammed the length of the grass at Colac West’s home ground following the Redbacks’ clash with West at the weekend.

The round four match produced only 219 runs from 90 overs, with Irrewarra winning the contest by one run in a nail biter.

Only 437 runs have been registered at the Colac-based ground from its two top-grade matches this season.

In contrast, Colac’s Eastern Reserve has produced 876 runs in two Division One games on the same days.

“The ground was a disgrace,” Hart said.

“There’s no way they should be playing Division One cricket the way it’s mowed, you hit the ball as hard as you can and you might be lucky for it to go 30 metres.

“All our blokes were going out getting caught because they were frustrated by how slow it was.

“It’s not a reflection of the West guys, the outfield is nice and green. The mowing of the ground needs to be addressed immediately to play Division One cricket there.”

But Colac Otway Shire Council chief executive officer Sue Wilkinson said the council, which maintained the venue, was confident it was providing cricketers with the best possible surface.

“Council does not agree with the Irrewarra captain’s views on the Western Oval,” he said.

“The ground was mowed on the Thursday before the match and

our Parks and Gardens team consider it was in a good condition.

“Every ground is different and at the end of the day, both sides are playing on the same surface and both experienced a slower outfield which means neither was advantaged.”

Ms Wilkinson said the council had worked hard to maintain the venue, which is shared by Colac Imperials footballers, in the lead up to the 2015-16 cricket season.

“At the end of the football season, council planted new turf in the run-off areas, which grew very successfully over the off-season and was well established in time for cricket.

“As the Western Oval is a winter grass ground that is shared between football and cricket, we need to keep some length on the grass to get it through the season.

“If we cut it too short, it dries off too quickly and ends up burnt in January and February.”

Colac West president Alex Horne supported Hart’s claims that long grass had been an ongoing issue at the club’s home venue.

But he understood the surface could deteriorate if an expected dry summer eventuated.

“We prefer the ground to be mowed every Wednesday or Thursday, or even on a Friday – the grass was too long on Saturday,” Horne said.

“If it was just a bit shorter it would improve the standard of cricket a lot more.

“But it is really thin and if you had no rain for two months it would become really dry, but at the end of the day, it’s all about scoring runs as a batsman and it’s hard to attract players to a ground if you can’t make big scores.”

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