The biggest names in Victorian cricket have joined forces to implore the state and federal governments to fund the Victorian Cricket and Community Centre at the Junction Oval in St Kilda.
The purpose built facility would consolidate Cricket Victoria's administration, development and training functions into a single location, as well as providing a boutique-sized alternate first-class venue for the Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers and VicSpirit.
In an open letter to the state and federal governments at the weekend, state legends Damien Fleming, Merv Hughes, Rodney Hogg, Dean Jones, Bill Lawry, Simon O'Donnell, Paul Sheahan, Shane Warne, Belinda Clark, Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Melanie Jones were among 22 high profile past and present state team members who made the call for action.
Current Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers and VicSpirit representatives Aaron Finch, David Hussey, James Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Greg Shipperd, Matthew Wade, Cameron White, Jess Cameron, Emma Inglis and Emma Inglis were also signatories.
The letter states: "...it is clear that the MCG alone cannot meet the growing requirements of Victorian cricket's future. Put simply, as Victorians we cannot afford to let cricket languish, while our competitors race ahead. Victoria has the highest cricket participation rate of any state in Australia - we must not fail our community and current and future generations of cricketers. The opportunity is now."
The Victorian Cricket and Community Centre presently has $10 million committed to the project from Cricket Victoria ($6 million) and Cricket Australia ($4 million).
A full copy of the open letter can be found below:
AN OPEN LETTER REGARDING THE FUTURE OF VICTORIAN CRICKET
We write this letter because Victorian cricket is currently at a crossroads which is threatening the future health of the game in this state.
As it stands, Victorian cricket is now at a competitive disadvantage to the rest of Australia.
The planned redevelopment of the Junction Oval as the Victorian Cricket and Community Centre is of immense importance to all who play and love the game in our state.
Despite our rich cricketing heritage, Victoria is the only Australian state that does not currently have more than one first-class cricket venue. NSW has eight and Queensland four.
Nor do we have adequate professional training and coaching facilities to ensure that emerging Victorian cricketers can realise their true potential.
Our capacity to nurture the current and future generations of cricketers is at risk.
The new Victorian Cricket and Community Centre is critically important and will provide:
- A second first-class cricket venue - an alternative to the MCG capable of hosting all levels of state, metropolitan and regional competition.
- The required first class venues to provide the possibility of making a successful bid for the 2018 or 2020 T20 World Cups.
- Increased capacity for Melbourne to host major international competitions, international women's cricket (including World Cups) and international diversity events.
- The opportunity for the MCC to guarantee earlier access to the MCG each March for AFL blockbuster games, which has benefits for all Victorians.
- Accommodation and training facilities for cricketers from country communities throughout Victoria. Regional cricket has a proud history of producing elite players and makes a huge contribution to the game in this state.
- Dedicated training and playing facilities for women's cricket in Victoria, which remains significantly under-resourced, despite its continued growth and success. Our Australian women's team is the current world champion.
- A new 'National Centre for Diversity Through Cricket' - offering social inclusion and talent development programs for new generations of cricketers from all cultural backgrounds.
Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia have committed $10 million to the Junction Oval redevelopment.
Governments have been great supporters of sport in this state, providing many sports with big investments in facilities.
Cricket has not been a significant beneficiary of such investment.
However, it is clear that the MCG alone cannot meet the growing requirements of Victorian cricket's future.
Put simply, as Victorians we cannot afford to let cricket languish, while our competitors race ahead.
Victoria has the highest cricket participation rate of any state in Australia - we must not fail our community and current and future generations of cricketers.
The opportunity is now.
We urge all parties to come together to bring rapid resolution to this vital matter.
16 DECEMBER, 2013|Richard Goodbody | Victorian Cricket and Community Centre