South West shire back-flips on cricket pitch decision with development of sport facilities stuck in the mud

Craig DuncanSouth Western Times
Leschenault Sport And Recreation Park’s Oval 6 was the proposed ground for a new turf wicket.
Camera IconLeschenault Sport And Recreation Park’s Oval 6 was the proposed ground for a new turf wicket. Credit: Craig Duncan

A South West shire has back-flipped on its decision to commence plans for the installation of a turf wicket in the middle of the region’s biggest junior football club’s premier playing ground.

The Shire of Harvey voted to revoke a resolution from last month’s council meeting that would have seen the installation of a cricket wicket on oval six at the Leschenault Recreation Park before the end of the year.

Concerns raised by the Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault Junior Football Club about player safety and its impact on the club highlighted the proposed wicket as a contentious issue.

Originally planned as part of the shire’s Leschenault Recreation Park master plan, released in 2019, the wicket was intended to occupy the oval, with the football club expanded by two additional ovals.

However, these plans for the past five years have remained incomplete.

Funding for the wicket was secured in 2021, with $100,000 from the State Government, currently held by the South West Development Commission, and $50,000 coming from WA Cricket Association.

The Times understands these funds are likely to be returned by the end of the year if development of the wicket does not go ahead.

The proposed extra fields in the LRP master plan from 2019.
Camera IconThe proposed extra fields in the LRP master plan from 2019. Credit: Shire of Harvey LRP Master Plan

Speaking at the council meeting on Tuesday night, Leschenault Cricket Club president Angelo D’Agostino expressed his desire for the club to receive equity and fairness with the installation of the wicket on oval six, given the plans had been in place for so long.

“We support the development of ovals seven and eight at the LRP, and we lament that it too has been stuck in a cycle of consult, plan and repeat,” he said.

Mr D’Agostino said there were thousands of football matches played each year around Australia on ovals with cricket pitches, from the AFL down to community level.

“Across WA’s 521 football venues, 246 have synthetic wickets, 73 have turf wickets,” he said.

“Shared facilities are common all over Australia.”

HBL juniors president Craig Ewen said if the wicket went in on oval six, the ground would not be safe to play on, and opened the club to repercussions if an injury occurred.

Mr Ewen said while shared facilities do exist on 17 fields in the South West, no football club has a cricket wicket on their main playing field.

The motion to revoke the resolution came from Cr Craig Carbone who said it was unfortunate the situation had become so divisive between the codes.

“Emotions do run high in sporting clubs,” he said.

He said the conflict ultimately stemmed from a lack of progression with ovals seven and eight, which he said was due to a lack of money.

“This shire has to balance up what we can do and what we can put forward,” he said.

“Quite frankly I personally can’t see ovals seven and eight being done anywhere in the next five years.”

The vote to revoke the motion passed 9-2, with only Cr Wendy Dickinson and Cr Robyn Coleman voting against.

Following the motion, the council voted on a foreshadowed motion which would see the council delay the construction of the turf wicket on oval six until ovals seven and eight are completed.

It also proposed installing a turf wicket as soon as possible on oval four, which is primarily used by the soccer club.

The foreshadowed motion also passed 9-2 with only Cr Dickinson and Cr Coleman opposed.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails