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A South West shire is risking a $150,000 in grants because of a contentious cricket pitch

Craig DuncanHarvey-Waroona Reporter
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Leschenault Sport And Recreation Park’s Oval 6 is the battle ground set for installation of the new cricket pitch.
Camera IconLeschenault Sport And Recreation Park’s Oval 6 is the battle ground set for installation of the new cricket pitch. Credit: Craig Duncan

A South West shire has had a heated debate about the installation of a turf cricket pitch on one of their premier football grounds at the risk losing a $150,000 investment if the project doesn’t go ahead.

The Shire of Harvey council narrowly voted to endorse a new sport and recreation plan, which includes the cricket wicket, at the most recent council meeting with half an hour of debate.

The conversation was centred on installation of a cricket pitch on Oval 6 at the Leschenault Recreation Park first approved in 2019.

The State Government provided the Leschenault Cricket Club $100,000 to construct the pitch with an additional $50,000 from the WA Cricket Association in 2021.

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For the last three years, however, the project has remained in limbo and if it does not go ahead before the end of 2024 the funds will be returned.

Leschenault Sport And Recreation Park has three cricket pitches currently, though none are close to major facilities.
Camera IconLeschenault Sport And Recreation Park has three cricket pitches currently, though none are close to major facilities. Credit: Craig Duncan

The installation of the pitch was a 2021 election promise from Murray-Wellington MLA Robyn Clarke who was present at the council meeting and expressed her disappointment with the progress from council.

During public question time Mrs Clarke asked for a clear timeline of the progress of the pitch.

“I know there... has been ongoing changes to the plans in the precinct, but I have concern that it is going to fall short of the timeline to be installed by December 2024,” she said.

Cr Robyn Coleman said delaying the project any further puts the shire at risk of losing the funding for the pitch and would damage the reputation of the council.

She said there are eight sporting groups with membership within the recreation park, seven of which are in favour of the cricket pitch being installed.

Cr Craig Carbone was the most vocal opposition to the installation of the pitch stating the plan was “stupid” and would make it impossible for other sporting teams to use the field if the pitch was installed.

“I am dead against this pitch going on oval 6. I don’t care if we lose the funding and it goes back,” Cr Carbone said.

“Is it worth having a turf cricket pitch there for half a dozen people to watch cricket, or is it better to have it as a premier footy ground?”

Cr Coleman said it was unfeasible to have specifically build sporting areas and there was a need to invest in coexisting sporting fields.

She said the field would could still be used by football and soccer teams as the pitch cured.

If the pitch is installed it would take at least two years for the ground to cure for it to be safe to play.

Outside the meeting Mrs Clarke said they would be playing cricket today had the shire installed the pitch when first given funds from the State Government.

Leschenault Cricket Club have been hoping to break ground on this new cricket pitch for over five years.
Camera IconLeschenault Cricket Club have been hoping to break ground on this new cricket pitch for over five years. Credit: Craig Duncan

Leschenault Cricket Club president Angelo D’Agostino expressed his disappointment with the delays in the pitches construction.

Mr D’Agostino said the club has over 150 members, with six men’s teams, two women’s teams and seven youth teams and whilst there are three cricket pitches in the park, none are close to the main facilities.

He said the lack of access to changing rooms was a significant issue for the women’s cricket teams especially.

The vote narrowly passed 5-4, with shire president Cr Michelle Campbell, Cr Carbone, Cr Tiny Holly and Cr John Bromham voting against.

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