Letter: Wray Crescent cricket pitch
- Credit: Archant
Protect valuable cricket pitch
Paul Davis, Jutland Close, Archway, writes:
The recent article about Islington Council’s plans for the Wray Crescent cricket pitch doesn’t mention that the pitch has been Wray’s dominant feature for over 40 years. It also doesn’t mention that many of The Friends of Wray Crescent’s proposed alternatives – a bowling green, an athletics track – would require that Wray Crescent’s pitch be demolished, which is why it’s difficult to take the FOWC’s word that their opposition isn’t anti-cricket in nature.
In 1999 Islington Council laid an artificial wicket on the existing cricket pitch at Wray Crescent with a commitment to protect and maintain it as the borough’s last cricket facility. The council has arguably failed in this duty, in no small part because of vicious cuts to local authority budgets. In the face of these cuts, over £500,000 has been raised for refurbishment. All the money raised – from the ECB, the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Sport England, the London Cricket Trust, and from private individuals like James Gleadow, a lifelong Islington resident who cashed in his life insurance before dying of cancer at age 36 to donate it specifically towards the pitch’s maintenance – is only available because of the cricket pitch.
Wray Crescent is now the last remaining cricket pitch in inner-London and has repeatedly been described by Islington Council as a “vital resource”. Anyone who wonders why might read Policy CS17 of Islington’s core strategy which states that the council will safeguard all existing sport provision and improve their quality.
Cricketer or not, we can all agree that Wray must remain green space freely available for public use. With a decent pitch there will be more cricket bookings, but those will still only account for a small fraction of the space’s usable time.
As far as I can tell, other casual uses – outdoor yoga, jogging, picnics, kids with kites – will remain unaffected plus there will be a new community space with a kitchen and toilets. Locals will recall the annual Hands off the People of Iran vs Labour Representation Committee match at Wray, or the Gecko Sri Lanka & Medical Aid to Sri Lanka tournament at Wray – these sorts of community events might also return with a fit-for-purpose pitch and a pavilion that isn’t condemned.
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A regular match I’d love to see is a N19 community XI play a N4 community XI with all proceeds donated to the Friends of Wray Crescent. Their advocacy for Wray’s upkeep is admirable, but in this case I think they might be looking a £500,000 gift horse in the mouth.
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