Cricket misses out

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CRICKET PNG national coaching director and former Australian Test and limited overs star Andrew Bichel has raised concerns that plans to build a sports stadium in Port Moresby in preparation for the 2015 Games was done with out consultation. 
Bichel questioned the limited usage suitability of the proposed stadium which would be built on two existing cricket ovals (Steamies and Nomads) in the Waigani area of the National Capital District.
The plans were revealed at the PNG Sports Federation’s strategic planning workshop held last weekend and some codes, including cricket, were surprised to learn that the planned “multi-sport” stadium would be limited to only rugby league, rugby union and soccer locking out sports such as cricket and Australian rules (AFL) which have some of the nation’s largest junior participation numbers.
The proposed stadium will remove cricket grounds currently used by the Port Moresby Cricket Association which has this season expanded by 25%.
Bichel, who took up his post last year, was shocked by the lack of consultation shown in this decision.
“I’m disheartened to see that a development project which has the potential to dramatically further the potential and success of so many sports has been created to benefit only a small politically favoured minority,” Bichel said.
The former Queensland Bulls star has played and commentated at some of the world’s most modern and famous sports stadiums was incredulous at the lack of understanding of stadiums shown in the current design.
“This current stadium proposal will cost hundreds of millions of kina to develop and still not reflect the most modern thinking in stadium design and operation.
“I understand the current proposal is based upon Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, a rectangular stadium that is only allowing access for rugby league, union and soccer,” he said.
“I find it interesting to note that the architecture firm that designed Skilled Park was also the lead consultant for the redevelopment of New Zealand’s Eden Park which was the stadium that this weekend hosted the Kangaroos and Kiwis Four Nations clash but also hosts international rugby union and international cricket,” Bichel observed.
“Eden Park shows that the current designs being considered for PNG are flawed. There a number of venues around the world that are multi-purpose and these designs must be considered.
“I call upon the Sports Minister Philemon Embel and the Prime Minister to urgently reconsider the design proposal to follow the Eden Park model. This is too important a project to be railroaded by one particular group. This stadium is being built in line with the 2015 Pacific Games but the decision making process seems to have resulted in a long term legacy benefit to one particular sport via the PNG NRL Bid which has no guarantee of success. We must unlock this fantastic project for the benefit of all sports loving Papua New Guineans,” Bichel added.
Bichel concluded by saying that the PNG Barramundi’s had won 16 of their past 17 international matches and we have been identified by the International Cricket Council as a fast track nation for development.
“PNG is considered a favourite to qualify for the 2012 ICC T/20 World Cup and our players should be able to prepare for that event at our countries premier sporting venue.”
“We are about to bring the World Record holder Muttiah Muralitharan and seven other former Test cricketer’s into PNG for a series that promotes the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ social message. We have just had Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia here for an International Cricket series.
“Why lock out a sport that in generating international media interest, increased world rankings and was recognised by the ICC as having the highest junior participation growth in the world in 2009?”
“How can these decisions be made without any consultation?”
“How can a location be selected where there currently is a cricket ground and no effort is being put in to replace the lost ground?”
“How does this proposal under the auspices of the 2015 games build a legacy for sporting development in PNG?”
“I also believe that certain members of the Venue Committee for the 2015 Games don’t favour the design – So why is it being pushed ahead?” Andy asked.
“I welcome discussions between our CEO Bill Leane, myself, the 2015 Games venue committee, (chaired by Graham Osborne), with the minister Embel and Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare as soon as possible,”  Bichel said.