Eden Park in Auckland, where South Africa will clash with Pakistan on Saturday, Westpac Stadium in Wellington and the Melbourne Cricket Ground all utilise drop-in pitches for the World Cup – but what exactly are these outsourced pieces of turf…?
1. A drop-in pitch is prepared away from the venue in which it is used, and literally ‘dropped in’ to place prior to the fixture. This allows multi-purpose grounds the versatility to host other sports.2. They were first used in World Series Cricket, started by Kerry Packer in the 1970s – and were necessary because the games had to be played in dual-purpose venues.3. The Gabba has rejected the use of drop-in pitches since 2005’s initial plea from the Brisbane Lions Australian Football League team. The groundstaff, largely due to the favourable weather in Queensland, prefer to prepare the pitch in the traditional way.4. Drop-in pitches can be put in place 24 hours before the start of a T20I and removed mere minutes after the conclusion, while the MCG curator and colleagues prefer to detach and replace them during the off-season.
5. Maintained within a steel frame and transported as a single slab, they are about 24 metres long, three metres wide, 20 centimetres deep and weigh almost 30 tons.
6. The machinery, often powered by StrathAyr Drop-In Portable Cricket Wicket technology, used to move them that brings them has to be as long, wide and heavy as the pitches.
7. The purpose-built, low-floatation StrathAyr TransportAyr minimises damage to the outfield. Where the TransportAyr is not feasible, a crane and lifting frame is used.
8. Plans to use drop-in pitches in baseball parks across America have proven problematic, due to strict rules about transporting soil over state lines. The best soil types for drop-in pitches are not located in the same areas – New York, California and Florida – which have been earmarked for cricket.