The "Drop In" Wicket Discussion

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The "Drop In" Wicket Discussion

Post by Chambo Off To Work We Go on Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:54 am

Firstly, having had the privilege of working on the new Adelaide Oval playing surface and the preparation of the drop in wickets, maybe it is useful to examine how they are constructed.

In the case of Adelaide Oval the pitches and the trays they sit in are grown and nurtured in the south east corner of the No 2 ground behind the Western Grandstand. This is where they sow the grass and get them ready for the cricket season.

The centre pitch area was prepared by constructing concrete foundations for 8 pitches each about 30cm wide. Each wicket tray then sits on the concrete footing and they are all placed together with about 3mm of tolerance.

The pitch "square" sits about 50mm higher than the surrounding "flat" oval with the level difference buffered out over a length of 5 metres.
This is so there is drainage off the wicket when it rains. There is now a gravel road running around the number 2 ground that was constructed for the purpose of towing the wicket trays into the main wicket area.The cricket wickets are transported in one slab (25m long, 3m wide, 200mm deep)

The firm that had the contract to install the playing surface on both grounds including the pitch preparation has also prepared drop in pitches for the following;
- Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
- ANZ Stadium, Sydney
- Etihad Stadium, Melbourne
- Otago Rugby Football Club, Dunedin, New Zealand
- Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
- MCG, Melbourne
- Lords Ground, Marylebone Cricket Club, UK (3 pitch trays)

Perhaps the jury is still out on whether drop in pitches are able to provide the ideal Test Match wicket.
However, the South African Cricket Board has published their version of the ideal 4 - 5 day pitch;

For a four or five day game

Day 1:
The pitch should be quite moist, with some green grass on the surface (not all will agree with this, as in the Australian examples).
A green surface will allow the ball to seam around a bit. The pitch should have consistent pace and bounce.
Days 2 & 3:
The pitch will have dried out and should become more bouncy and it should quicken up (provided it does not crack badly by becoming too dry too quickly). It will have lost its greenness and so should not seam around much. The ball should come nicely onto the bat and the pitch should now be ideal for batting.
Day 4:
The surface should start to powder and the cracks will start to open up. This will slow the pitch down. It will become less bouncy, the bounce will become more inconsistent and it will start to take spin.
[Day 5:
The above pattern will be accentuated as the pitch wears further.

It is debatable whether drop in pitches will ever "powder" to the extent previously shown on grounds like the SCG. Perhaps Shane Warne would not have been so in favour of these pitches, nor been as effective as he was in exploiting a deteriorating pitch.

But the SCG curator Tom Parker is adamant that concessions to the demands of multi-sport stadiums will not go so far as to force Sydney to resort to the drop-in pitches now used in Melbourne and Adelaide.

"It's only myself here and Gabba that have traditional pitches. We're a dual purpose ground and it is a mammoth task to change over from AFL to cricket and maintain a first-class pitch. For the characteristics of the SCG, even if you had a drop-in here, you're not going to replicate the centre that's out there at the moment. No I think we're right, the Trust is pretty staunch. Can't say it's never ever going to happen but in near future nothing on the drawing board I can assure you of that."

Countering that argument is the MCG which has probably been the oldest of the drop in wickets at major cricket ground in Australia. The system, enabled the;
- MCG to produce a FIFA-standard soccer pitch for Olympic football at the ground just 10 days after the 2000 AFL Grand Final.
- provides a safer playing surface for AFL players
- allows events such as international soccer and Bledisloe Cup rugby to be played on a world-class surface.

An example of this flexibility came in December 1999 when an AFL exhibition match between Carlton and Collingwood was staged just 24 hours after the conclusion of the Boxing Day Test.

It is clear that the needs and demands of a multi-purpose stadium upon which a variety of international sports are played requires technology capable of quick ground preparation turnaround times. The commercial needs of such a stadium probably outweigh the needs of Test Cricket alone.

Just don't let the MCC members hear that..........






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Chambo Off To Work We Go

Join date : 2012-02-03
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