STARTING the week after local grand finals last season, the new Town turf wicket should be ready for action a few weeks into the cricket season. The wicket, a near $25,000 investment, has also coincided with other improvements at the ground. The West campus oval now has irrigation and drainage along with couch and Santa Ana turf. The club now has four wickets in the middle of its home ground.
It is keeping the hard wicket for early in the year while the turf settles. Club curator Matt Davies was thrilled with how the ground is looking.
“Usually it’s really wet out here and we can’t even get on the ground for two to three weeks into the season,” he said. “Now it’s looking great.” Work is continuing on the wicket and grounds during the week. It’s a job Davies is more than willing to fulfil for the benefit of local cricketers. He took on the job after fracturing his fibula during a football game for Leongatha Parrots and a subsequent ankle reconstruction – he’ll be out for another four months, giving him plenty of time to keep Town’s new wicket in top shape. “A new turf wicket, only the second in Leongatha itself, will give more players the opportunity to play on turf,” Davies said. “That means our cricketers will be playing on the same conditions as they would for Country Week, Gippsland representative teams and more. “This will hopefully attract more top quality players and improve the standard of competition across the league.”
During the lead up to the season opener, Davies and his support crew have been working hard out of the new curator’s shed. “We’ve been reseeding with couch and Santa Ana, and controlling the Cape Weed,” Davies said. “Two weeks ago we top dressed it to get the levels right and we expect to start rolling it within three weeks. “It should all be ready for its first game in six to eight weeks.” The turf wicket is a significant investment into cricket in Leongatha. The project was funded through substantial grants through South Gippsland Shire Council, South Gippsland Water, Cricket Victoria, major sponsor AW Smith and Sons Hardware and club fundraisers.