AG – 12 – CLIFTON COUNTY CRICKET CLUB, NEW ZEALAND
The Clifton County Cricket Club is situated in Te Awanga, North Island, New Zealand.
The ground was the brainchild of a local Farmer and his friend. They gazed out at the natural amphitheatre encircled by idyllic rolling hills and within a few yards was a spectacular view of the South Pacific. Wonderful wines were produced there.
Inspired by England Village cricket, they thought it would be a wonderful idea to create a cricket ground. With a lot of support from local people and hard work, this was achieved. Five hundred truck and trailer loads of free topsoil for the playing surface, irrigation system was introduced to counter the arid summer conditions and all-weather pitch was laid.
But it was the next generation of the founding members’ family who took the game to the next high level.
Though cricket is always primary, the organisers are involved in several projects including the planting of 7000 trees and reintroduction of native birds into the ecosystem. In fact, the present managers of this club say they follow a three-pronged project viz., conservation, recreation and agriculture.
Members of the club are involved in conservation projects like planting trees and reintroducing native birds into the ecosystem .
Photo courtesy : Clifton Cricket Club
Clifton is now a recognised port-of-call for cricket lovers and a constant stream of visitors make a visit and admire the natural beauty of the ground.
The ground hosted one of the side matches to the 2015 World Cup, the local club playing a celebrity side consisting of former Test players, All Blacks and TV personalities captained by former Australian pace dynamo Jeff Thomson. The game was called the Cricket Art Deco match because Napier, a nearby town, is an Art Deco marvel. Players and spectators joined in the fun, dressing up in ethnic clothes.
When the Clifton County Cricket Club (CCCC) was started in 1985 it was during the peak of New Zealand cricket’s first great cricketing era. New Zealanders couldn’t get enough of the game, and among them was the Nilsson’s family.
Visitors used to throng the Hawke’s Bay village of Te Awanga, half an hour drive of South Napier for 2 things viz.,Beautiful Vineyards and cycling trails in the Bay. And now the CCCC ground is added as the 3rd option of fame. This unique cricket ground, the scene of sporadic and relaxed village cricket style matches is a happy hunting ground.
Nilsson’s family who owned the Te Awanga farmland thought a cricket pitch in a special spot on the family sheep farm would be a great way to bring family and friends together for some special backyard cricket on Sunday afternoons.
Soon the word spread of this beautiful ground on a private cricket ground, New Zealand cricketers showed interest. Former Captain Geoff Howarth made his way to Te Awanga to experience it.
After the 1980s the club went into a lull. Then in 2012, the young members of Nillson, Chris and his friend Sam Howard took personal interest and dusted off the dream to grow Clifton into a proper cricket ground on a two Hectare site.
Today, Mark Greatbatch, the former swashbuckling opener of New Zealand who played in 1980/1990s is proud to play as one of 250 Hawke’s Bay families who are members of CCCC.