Despite competition from other sports and activities, cricket is holding its own in terms of playing numbers around the Wellington region.
“Playing numbers are relatively stable,” says Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton. “We’ve got good numbers through juniors. There’s a bit of tail-off at secondary school. At the senior grades we’ve had lift through the introduction of 20/20 grades.”
Mr Clinton says the 20/20 grade has proved attractive as games are over within three hours. He says reduced-overs formats help to keep players who otherwise struggle to have enough time to play the longer forms of the game.
“We’ve got a range of formats to attract and retain players. Work and family sometimes make it difficult to keep players but the newer formats help to keep them.”
Mr Clinton says overcoming wet weather is a constant challenge, as is finding enough grounds and ensuring they are up to standard. “We’ve spent a lot of time with councils discussing our specific requirements. We’ve seen major improvements ground by ground.”
He says the introduction of artificial turf around Wellington has been good for the sport. “We’re accessing them for junior cricket. They’re good for introducing youngsters to the game on a safe surface.”
Finding umpires remains a problem. However Mr Clinton says the umpires association has been successful in attracting new members. “We’ve had umpires in all Pearce and Hazlett Cup matches for the first time.”
He says the umpires association is working to help umpires who want to progress to higher levels of the game.
Meanwhile, the Petone-Riverside Club can reflect on one of its most successful seasons in recent years.
President Allan Hewson says the senior team won the Hazlett Cup – Cricket Wellington’s second-tier competition – while the club’s second team finished third in its competition. “All our other teams did well.”
He says Kelvin Snell returned from England to score more than 500 runs and take 50 wickets, while Nick Ward scored more than 300 runs and Mark Hewson took 38 wickets.
In the lower grades the club fielded teams in the 20-20 grade but watches were seriously affected by the weather.
Mr Hewson says Petone-Riverside caters for all ages. “We’ve got junior teams from age five up. We cater all the way through.”
However there is one area that Hr Hewson is looking for progress. “We don’t have a women’s team. We hope to change that next season.”