‘It’s going to be a beautiful field’: Cricket pitch construction underway at Assiniboine Park

The home base of Manitoba’s cricket community is getting a much-needed facelift.

Major work is being done on the cricket field in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park, in an effort to keep up with one of the fastest growing sports in Canada.

“The actual playing fields themselves aren’t really up to the standard that you need to play high-level cricket,” said Nigel Wilcox, a cricket player and president of the Winnipeg Taverners Cricket Club. “Basically, we need a better playing area.”

The area is expected to receive a number of upgrades including new batting and bowling cages, along with natural grass surfaces, also known as wickets.

It comes with a hefty price tag — $1.6 million – with funding from Cricket Canada and the Manitoba government.

“The project will include a redesign and an upgrade of the existing field,” said Laura Cabak, Assiniboine Park Conservancy communications and public relations director.

Prior to the construction, there were three fields in one. The plan is to combine those into two full-size pitches that are up to par with international standards.

“We’re going to replace the turf, install an irrigation system and build new batting and bowling cages,” Cabak said.

The last time the field was updated was in 1967 for the PanAm Games.

“The facilities will be better,” said Nilay Shah, who plays at Assiniboine Park with Cosmos Cricket Club. “It directly impacts the players who will be playing…it’s good for them.

“It’s definitely an improvement over what we had before,” Shah continued. “It’s long overdue, but better late than never.”

Since they couldn’t play on their home field, Shah and other members of Cosmos Cricket Club travelled to the West Indies this summer to watch the T20 Men’s Cricket World Cup. They say the trip is a dream come true, especially as newcomers who saw the sport as a sense of community when they arrived in Canada.

“It really helped me build a base and get settled in a new environment and new country and just make lifelong friendships,” said Saif Baloch.

“Together we represent five different countries: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Guyana and the United Arab Emirates,” said Ray Ramrattan, Cosmos’ president.

Community is something the team at Assiniboine Park said it hopes to promote with the new upgrades.

“There’s obviously a lot of interest in what’s going on here in the park and the future of cricket here, so I think it’s an exciting time,” Cabak said.

Construction on the new cricket wickets began this past spring, but players will have to wait until 2026 to return to the field.

“It’s going to be a beautiful field to play on,” Wilcox said.  

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