Macquarie s Zac Rennick in the middle of a No.1 Oval mudbath in June. Heavy use and winter rain has led to a complaint about the oval s suitability for top grade cricket. 	Photo: JOSH HEARD
Macquarie s Zac Rennick in the middle of a No.1 Oval mudbath in June. Heavy use and winter rain has led to a complaint about the oval s suitability for top grade cricket. Photo: JOSH HEARD

A BATTLE is brewing over the future use of No.1 Oval, with angry Dubbo cricketers uniting in an attempt to improve the facility during the summer months.

Dubbo District Cricket Association (DDCA) president Warren Saunders has written to the Dubbo Sports Council highlighting the inadequate condition of the oval in the wake of a winter's worth of rugby league and union action.

The letter asks for the winter users of No.1 Oval, Dubbo CYMS and Dubbo Kangaroos, to possibly shift any finals matches to Apex and not only utilise the new facility but give their main venue a chance to bounce back prior to the start of the cricket season.

With Apex Oval out of action due to construction of a water storage unit and relaying of the playing surface, all four Dubbo league and union clubs used No.1 Oval as their home base, resulting in massive wear and tear on the surface.

Unfortunately for local cricketers the playing square and most of the infield hasn’t recovered sufficiently, with Saunders describing the wickets as ‘dead’ and not providing entertaining cricket.

“We pay more than $45,000 to council per year to prepare all the wickets and so far this season the Victoria Park wickets, No.1 in particular, haven’t been up to standard,” Saunders said.

“No.2 and No.3 are a little better but we’ve noticed over the past few seasons that they have gradually declined due to the traffic of teams training on them during winter.

“We know that last season was a one-off with Apex out of action but our fees haven’t been reduced and we are playing on a sub-standard surface.

“They’ve spent all this money on making Apex a brilliant facility, and it is, so why not take the big football games there at the end of the season and make use of it because it just sits there in summer.

“A couple of weeks ago the Country Championship final was played at Orange and everyone commented on how good Wade Park was. We’ve only been able to play one rep game at No.1 Oval this season because it’s not up to hosting rep cricket.”

The matter will be discussed later this month by the sports council and the parties involved, with Dubbo Kangaroos president Graeme Board admitting his club is yet to meet about the issue.

But he said it would be high on the list of agenda items at their next general meeting.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the club because we haven’t talked about it but personally I’m not that impressed,” Board said.

“With our history of playing at No.1 Oval since inception, it’s probably a bit insulting that they’re asking us to move games.

“Truth be known our boys and the other teams probably don’t like playing football on a cricket pitch area but we’ll talk about it at our meeting and then put forward our case at the meeting.”

Dubbo CYMS president Kevin Walkom said his club would be willing to co-operate but not to the detriment of their own best interests.

“We have a lot of interest in No.1 Oval with our Old Boys having their luncheons before matches and we have to consider forfeiting the home ground advantage we get from playing there,” Walkom said.

“Obviously I can see where the cricketers are coming from. In an ideal world No.1 Oval is a place where we can all co-exist and have a brilliant facility.

“This season was a bit out of the ordinary and will probably not happen again for a very long time.

“We want the oval to be in good condition for everyone so we would be happy to co-operate but we only get six or seven days notice as to whether we host finals and it’s dependant on us making the semis in the first place.

“We’re happy to talk about it and work in with everyone where we can but our first obligation is to look after our own interests.”