Fibre internet gives Saxton Oval an edge

Max Frethey, Local Democracy Reporter 10:23, May 24 2023. Read on Stuff.

Nelson Cricket’s George Vance hopes installing fibre internet to the wicket will help Saxton Oval win its bids for more international cricket games.

Nelson Cricket is hoping more international games may come to Saxton Oval now that fibre internet to the wicket is being installed.

A lack of fibre was one of two main hurdles that Nelson Cricket general manager George Vance said was holding the venue back in the bidding process.

“With the change in broadcasting technology over the years, that’s a service that isn’t there currently,” he said.

“It’s a competitive process to get international cricket. We have one of the best facilities in New Zealand… But there are things we can do to make us more competitive in that process.”

Connecting the wickets to fibre internet allows broadcasters to use stump mics and cameras when they cover matches and enables umpires to make in-game decisions using optical tracking systems.

The other barrier for Saxton Field is the lack of camera towers at either end of the oval.

“What we’ve done in the past is we’ve had temporary scaffolding towers. The challenge with that is it adds an extra significant cost for each televised fixture. If we had permanent towers, then that removes an ongoing setup cost.”

Vance outlined these hurdles to the Saxton Field Committee – a joint committee consisting of two councillors each from Nelson City and Tasman District councils and chaired by independent member Derek Shaw – alongside other Nelson Cricket members at the beginning of May.

Since that presentation, the committee has committed to installing fibre to the wicket before the summer cricket season begins.

“That’s really positive for Nelson,” Vance said.

Crowds enjoy the Bangladesh vs New Zealand ODI at Saxton Oval in 2016. It’s now a wait and see if the boutique ground see a return to international cricket?

“International cricket and hosting major events are a very tangible way to unite the community by bringing people together to share a nice day out. So we, along with the councils, are doing everything we can to be competitive and make that happen.”

He added that the summer fixtures will be live free-to-air through a new partnership with TVNZ and could bring positive promotional activity to hosting regions.

Andrew White, Nelson City Council’s group manager community services, said the two councils are keen to see more international cricket matches at Saxton, which will have significant financial benefits for the region.

He confirmed that the expected cost of installing the fibre would be minimal due to the supporting infrastructure already being in place.

Funding is set aside for the 2028/29 financial year to further expand Saxton Oval’s facilities to support international matches, like installing permanent media towers.

Vance added that all parties involved, including Central District Cricket, the Nelson Regional Development Agency, and the two councils, have been “really supportive and really proactive” at working to get international games to the region.

Nelson Cricket and Central Districts have now launched a bid to host some international men and women’s cricket games in the upcoming season and Vance hopes having the fibre internet will give Saxton Oval an edge.

“Now it’s just a wait and see, so we’re fingers crossed that New Zealand Cricket give us the opportunity to host an international this coming summer.”