There is a fresh breeze blowing over the country’s most historic sports stadium, St George’s Park.
Speaking at a function to invited stakeholders and business on Friday July 1, Eastern Province Cricket CEO Jesse Chellan, said EP Cricket had “turned a significant corner”.
From the President’s Suite, overlooking the field that hosted South Africa’s first ever men and womens’ cricket and rugby internationals Chellan said there was renewed confidence in the structures of the organisation and that a “nip and tuck’ maintenance and upgrade programme on which a million rand had already been spent, was being rolled out with the support of the local department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.
“We are currently re-negotiating the lease agreement EP cricket has with the local municipality in line with international best practice and believe this will enable the municipality to become greater partners in developing this asset for the metro.”
Chellan alluded to a potential re-structuring at national level, which would enable the EP and Warriors cricket teams to play all home matches at St George’s, which would bring “more cricket to the community and value to sponsors.”
Having had to manage the fallout of a restructuring process that created a great deal of uncertainty at St George’s when he was appointed early last year Chellan said “EP Cricket has turned a significant corner and we are bullish about the opportunities and prospects that are ahead as we pursue a big vision.”
Eastern Province Cricket Board President Donavan May said a strong group of board members representing both amateur cricket structures and business had invested “great effort and a unified approach to elevate EP Cricket to a prominent place in the pysche of players, sponsors and supporters.”
“We have entered into a contract with Inkanyezi Events, as a partner to assist us communicate with key stakeholders and users of the stadium and know that a mutual passion for the region, attached to high levels of professionalism, is part of the winds of change blowing over EP Cricket” May said.
Fast blowing stalwart Basheer Walters, speaking on behalf of the Warriors squad members, not currently overseas, said the team had been undergoing a conditioning programme that “was a notch up” from previous seasons and that “the team can’t wait to get onto the field.”
“It has felt like we have been training for Ironman sometimes, and the squad is very ready to get into a period of technical skills refinement before the season begins in the final quarter of the year,” Walters said.
“The inclusion of a guy like Kyle Abbott into the squad is an inspiration to the players and we have a lot to learn from him and his international experience.”
Following the good news that St George’s Park will host a large share of international matches this coming season, Eastern Province Cricket scooped Cricket South Africa’s Most Improved Affiliate Award in May.
“The Board and I set ourselves the goal of being the most improved affiliate for the past season and we are extremely proud of the progress made at all levels towards achieving that goal, Chellan said.
“While our overall score moved from 57% to 70% we were ranked 3rd for Senior Provincial Cricket, 3rd for Provincial Academy and 3rd for Governance, which shows tangible proof of the measures put in place and the improvements made by staff and the board.
St Georges will host an ODI against Australia on October 9, the 1st Test against Sri Lanka on December 26 and an ODI against Sri Lanka on 28 January 2017.