Cricket: Result eases pressure on Newbuildings and Union

Drummond opening batsman Andy Christie pictured in action against Glendermott. INLS2915-107KM
Drummond opening batsman Andy Christie pictured in action against Glendermott. INLS2915-107KM

Following on from the abandonment of their game against Fox Lodge at Foyle College earlier this month, Newbuildings’ match at home to Killyclooney on Saturday was played to a conclusion, easing the pressure somewhat on the club and the North West Union.

Further disruption this week would have made it difficult for Newbuildings to complete the season at their Northland Road base so all involved will be delighted that things ran much more smoothly this time.

So smoothly did they run in fact that a Peat Salmon century helped the home side post a mammoth 305-5 on Saturday, probably putting the earlier abandoned game into some sort of context.

It is believed however that the Cricket Operations Committee is meeting this evening to discuss a number of general issues and among them will be what action to take in relation to that abandoned game.

It is believed that the committee has several options at its disposal including ordering a replay at the same venue, at a different venue, or indeed awarding the points directly to the Ballymagorry club.

A spokesman close to the Union suggested that tonight’s meeting wasn’t a witch-hunt against Newbuildings or any other club.

“The operations committee has a range of business to discuss as it often does, but it is likely that they will also look into the abandoned game as a matter of course.

“The usual protocol is that any submissions, including reports from the umpires, will be considered and a decision made on the basis of those.

“Just because a match has been abandoned at someone’s ground doesn’t make it their fault. There could be any number of contributory factors.

“That said the onus is very much on the home team to have their ground ready for play which isn’t always easy, particularly given the recent weather.”

It would appear that one of the major issues affecting the Foyle College ground is that it is used for a wide range of purposes.

A former pupil at the college who has played there many times in the past added that visiting teams and officials need to remember that the venue isn’t a purpose built cricket facility.

“While there has always been a general ‘square’ at the ground it hadn’t been used in years before Newbuildings took the lease. People have to remember that this isn’t a laid square as you would find at other grounds.

“The only viable wicket is the artificial mat - which is where the school teams always played - after that if you play on grass you are literally playing on a surface that hasn’t been used for senior cricket in a lifetime. With no covers it is totally exposed to the elements so it isn’t going to be Lord’s.

“I’ve been there on days when rugby players are walking across the middle in their boots, or cyclists are cutting across the grounds on bikes.

“I’ve also seen lads with golf clubs and a ball playing drives from all over the ground, including the middle.”

It is understood that Newbuildings’ two-year lease on the ground is up at the end of the current season and with the North West having already ruled out the possibility of a ground-share while in the senior ranks, the club may well now have a decision to make.

The word on the street is that Foyle College will retain ownership of the property until 2017 so Newbuildings Cricket Club may well be able to negotiate an extension that would allow them to continue to use the venue for another couple of seasons.

The proviso however is likely to be that any work to the ground will have to be carried out by the club, and with the North West club licensing scheme being implemented at present; it could mean some commitment from Newbuildings to bring Foyle up to scratch.

The alternative is that the club will be in a position to move to their own ground at some point in the near future, however that doesn’t seem likely at this stage.

Initially the plan was to be playing on their own pitch by 2016 but although they have now secured ownership of the land, the necessary grants and finance applications are only at the very early stages.

The whole scheme is dependent on major funding from Sport NI but with the governing body having been dormant for some considerable time in terms of finance, Newbuildings are likely to face very stiff competition from throughout the province for a share of the pot.

The over-riding sense from within the North West committee is that they have supported Newbuildings through from the start and will continue to do so.

The Union’s mantra is to ensure that potential players from all areas are given the opportunity to play the sport at their local club and they are keen to support Newbuildings in any way they can.

It seems clear that the North West understands the complexities of Newbuildings’ project and have been happy with the way that Raymond Mitchell has tried to keep them up-to-date with progress as best they can.

The Union seems to be suggesting that if the club communicates with them openly and regularly that they can work together to ensure that the sport continues to flourish in the area.