Echuca Cricket Club has recently spent more than $70,000 on upgrading its cricket nets.By Zach Hubber
Echuca Cricket Club had its first chance to trial the new cricket nets at Victoria Park last night after the $70,130 upgrade was completed on Monday.
The latest facility comprises four nets, three of which are fully turfed, while the fourth is half-turfed, wicket-keeper-friendly and available for public use.
The nets are the final addition to the $210,000 Victoria Park Master Plan, which saw a new scoreboard and storage shed also added.
Cricket club president Paul Hon said the new nets were always going to happen, it was just a matter of when.
‘‘The council supported us in funding grants and the club’s also contributed considerably for this,’’ he said.
‘‘We wanted four nets because we’ve got four senior sides and more than 50 players on our books.
‘‘We want this to be seen as a regional facility, so we can encourage association teams like Northern Rivers and other elite competition sides to train here.’’
Hon said originally all four nets were going to be half-turf wickets, but was happy the club struck a better deal.
‘‘As you can see we got a better solution which keeps the balls in, helps follow throughs and is much better on the bowlers,’’ he said.
‘‘We spoke to the shire about what a regional facility should have and the specifications were the dimensions we gave, plus the full turf on the practice wickets.’’
Talks between Campaspe Shire and the Echuca football and cricket clubs more than two years ago brought about the master plan, which saw the parties submit an unsuccessful application for a Victorian government grant.
Consequently, the council and the cricket club funded the nets project, which saw the club raise more than $35,000, while the council contributed half the funding for the nets and fully funded the other two major projects.
Community places and programs manager Brett Flavell said the plan looked at how it could deliver not only the renewal of the cricket net arrangement, but also upgrade them to meet the growth of the area.
‘‘I think it’s a big improvement on the previous nets and hopefully this will service the club’s future growth,’’ he said.
‘‘I think good facilities in Echuca or good facilities at any recreation reserve are important and the council’s objective is to maintain infrastructure at sites, which we do through our renewal program and through our ongoing maintenance program.’’
One of the renewal projects on the horizon is an upgrade of the netball courts at the Victoria Park precinct.
‘‘We’re working with the club to try and increase the level of service to two courts,’’ Mr Flavell said.
‘‘We’re working with the football and netball club and the tennis club on how we can achieve that.
‘‘Echuca’s one of 32 reserves across the shire and we’ll keep monitoring each club.’’
Echuca’s senior captain Brendan Prendergast was rapt with latest upgrade, saying the new facility would add extra enthusiasm at cricket training.
‘‘Any time players get a chance to run around in something new it always gives them a bit of a boost,’’ he said.
‘‘It’ll just be really good for us to have a quality facility, which is a vast improvement on what we had before and allows us to get back to Tuesday and Thursday training.’’
The senior sides have been training at Echuca South Recreation Reserve each Monday and Wednesday for about two months, while the juniors have been training at Echuca Secondary College.
‘‘It’s good to be back at home,’’ Prendergast said.
‘‘We were very lucky that the guys at South accommodated us and that was a really good gesture by them.’’
Hon was also full of praise for South.
‘‘We’re just very appreciative of the Echuca South Cricket Club for hosting us over the last couple months,’’ he said.
The president added the club still had ideas to improve its home ground further.
‘‘To bring this in line with a regional facility we’d like to get some side screens at some stage,’’ he said.
‘‘You’ve always got to have a goal, don’t you?’’
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