Quake struck Christchurch gets World Cup matches, for now
Wellington: Former New Zealand captain Lee Germon got his wish as his hometown of Christchurch was selected to host the opening match of the 2015 cricket World Cup, though he is acutely aware it could be taken away again in a little over a week.
New Zealand`s second-largest city was on Tuesday provisionally awarded three of the pool matches for the tournament that is being co-hosted with Australia, pending the approval of ground development plans.
Christchurch`s Lancaster Park was wrecked by the February 22, 2011 earthquake that devastated the city and killed just under 200 people and local cricket authorities submitted plans for a redevelopment of an international-standard venue on Hagley Park, which borders the central city.
A month-long Environment Court hearing ended earlier this month and Germon, who is the Canterbury Cricket chief executive, said on Tuesday a decision was expected as early as August 9 to determine whether the plans had been approved.
"The court could take longer, but we are hopeful to have a decision by the end of next week," Germon said.
"This is about as good as it could get in terms of allocation of matches for us. We are very happy with it," he added of the matches, which includes the tournament opener between Sri Lanka and New Zealand on February 14.
The other two matches will be played either side of the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, with Pakistan playing West Indies on February 21 and England facing a qualifier on February 23.
The matches were, however, still marked "with an asterisk" Germon said as any delays in the decision past the end of August or possible appeals would place them under intense time pressures to complete the redevelopment before the tournament.
Germon said they would need at least 12 months to construct the pavilion, facilities and banking around the existing oval.
"I think we need to get it completed by August next year, so if we receive the decision anytime in August then its manageable but if it goes past that then it does make it a lot more difficult for us," he said.
"But, our vision is a ground for the future. Cricket World Cup is a huge part of that but not everything to do with it.”
"If the decision comes back and it`s not the decision we want then we will need to consider our options and one of those options is for us to appeal the decision, which could take a minimum of three months."
Germon added opponents of the redevelopment could also lodge an appeal if it was approved.
Should there be no delays to the project, Germon said they would like at least "one or two" matches on Sri Lanka`s tour of New Zealand late next year to test the facilities and event management procedures.
He doubted there would be any problems with the wicket block or playing surface.
"We`re already pretty well along that path after having played first class cricket there," he said.
"It`s more about the infrastructure and facilities being tested."