Out of the firing line


SENIOR cricket is set to return to Lois Twohig Reserve’s lower oval next season after Greater Dandenong council allocated $245,000 to move the oval’s pitch further from neighbouring houses.
It is also considering a taller perimeter fence, at an estimated cost of $140,000, as a further defence for long-suffering neighbours.
North Dandenong Cricket Club seniors had been banned from playing on the pitch this season after complaints by neighbours about their roofs and backyards being peppered by cricket balls.
Stray balls regularly clear a six-metre-high perimeter fence intended to protect houses built 50 metres away from the synthetic pitch.
Les and Suzi Harris, whose yard and roof have been in the firing-line since the 1970s, were hopeful the move would finally give them peace.
“This news is a great Christmas present,” a relieved Ms Harris said. “At least now the council is doing something.”
Since the ban last March, the couple had still collected eight balls that landed in their yard; a cricket ball landing metres from Mr Harris as he gardened.
He attributes seven of the astray balls to regular and illegal social cricket matches, and one to a junior club fixture.
“As long as you hear a whack off the bat, you have to have a look about in case one lands near you.”
Mr Harris said the expensive solution was as a result of a “planning failure” which allowed a cricket pitch and homes to be built so close.
The couple had been long frustrated that the council had failed to act after in 2000 he produced 70 balls that landed in his yard.
Dandenong Cricket Club committee member Colin Riddiford said the move was timely given the senior cricket ban was threatening the club’s viability.
He said the club had lost a team of players because it had been forced to move cricket from its home base to Lyndale Secondary College.
“It’s effecting the club’s financially something shocking. We made a $5000 loss this season.”
Some councillors quibbled with the cost of works and using an open-space reserve fund collected from developers’ contributions.
The works include shifting the concrete-base pitch eight metres east, extending the oval’s eastern boundary and removing a disused road on the eastern side.