HOWZAT! Organised recreational cricketers playing on Parramatta sports grounds have just been bowled over following complaints from district cricket clubs.
Problems have arisen when cricket clubs, who have booked grounds for their regular weekend stints, have encountered the organised recreational players reluctant to leave the pitch.
“Organised recreational” cricket groups refer to teams of registered players who play regularly in teams, dressed in their whites, with umpires.
They are not part of traditional district cricket clubs that pay council for the hire of sports grounds.
The main problem is at Doyle Ground in North Parramatta,but is known to happen at other sports grounds within the Parramatta LGA.
“They think they’re playing Test cricket, all in their whites and their teams,” Lord mayor Bob Dwyer told the Times.
“Often, they’re arguing with the booked cricket club players when they turn up. So they’re chased off only to go to another ground.”
But not anymore, if Parramatta Council can help it. Council has resolved to patrol the grounds, look at putting up signs and encourage cricket clubs to report unauthorised use of pitches.
There will be a review in six months’ time.
Concerns over flying cricket balls
Council officers reported to councillors the crux of the problem: “The current seasonal and casual hirers of Doyle Ground, and other similar sports grounds in the LGA, are required to go through a rigorous application process to obtain their seasonal licence or undertake a casual booking, including the provision of public liability insurance.
This process seeks to ensure sports participants are sufficiently protected and that risk is appropriately managed for the community and Council’s assets.”
Council makes $13,809 a year from sports clubs hiring grounds for regular weekend play and $3266 from casual hirers.
That includes a range of sports – cricket, touch football, AFL, hockey, fitness training and school sport during winter and touch football, cricket, fitness training and school sport during summer.
Doyle Ground is also popular with individuals and families for informal recreational activities because of the circular walking track, fitness equipment, playground and wide-open spaces.
Cr Dwyer said that, apart from the loss of potential revenue to the council, he was concerned that people using the park for recreation and enjoyment could be injured by flying cricket balls.
“People dribbling a soccer ball around is fine but playing a full-on game of cricket is more dangerous to other users of the park,” he said.
What would Parramatta boy and cricket legend, the late Richie Benaud say? No doubt he would not find the situation “marvellous” in any way.
By DI BARTOK