QUEANBEYAN’S premier cricket ground Freebody 1 could be out of action for the entire 2013/14 season.
The ground’s pitch square was recently dug up and re-laid for first time in at least 15 years.
Queanbeyan District Cricket Club curator Greg Dawes said the oval would be unplayable until at least the Christmas break while the new pitch takes root.
“At the moment it’s definitely out of action until after Christmas but a few blokes who know about these things reckon it won’t be ready this season,” he said.
“It could be out of action for the whole year but we don’t know until we get to January and see what’s it’s like.
“It’s not really a problem though. We’ve got Freebody 2 which is classed as a level one ground so we won’t have any issues playing first grade games there and we’ve got Town Park for the lower grades as well.”
Freebody 1 also serves as the home ground for rugby league side the Queanbeyan Kangaroos from April through to August.
That, combined with Queanbeyan’s cold winter climate, means work on the pitch could only be carried out in the lead up to the cricket season.
Queanbeyan’s first and second grade games will be played at the nearby Freebody 2 while its neighbour is out of action. Third, fourth and fifth grade will play at Town Park.
Dawes, who has served as the club’s curator for the past five seasons, said digging up and relaying the square had long been due.
“It was buggered,” he said of the previous pitch. “I’m guessing it was maybe 15-18 years ago council last put down [a new square] which is a fair time. Considering it gets rugby league played on it as well it gets knocked about.
“You were just pushing the proverbial uphill the whole time trying to get any grass growth on it.
“We’ve still managed to produce wickets over the past five years to the appropriate standard but obviously we’re hoping the new square will be a lot better.”
The Freebody Oval precinct has also slated to undergo a $178,000 upgrade to its irrigation and sprinkler system.
And Dawes said once the work on Freebody 1 was complete, Queanbeyan would further enhance its standing as boasting some of the best cricketing facilities in regional NSW.
“Once Freebody 1 is back up and running we’ll have two first grade grounds, plus Town Park, plus the new pavilion,” he said. “There aren’t too many clubs around that are going to be able to match what we’ve got in Queanbeyan.
“I reckon we’ll end up with one of the nicer country facilities going around.”