#NewsBytesExplainer: What is a drop-in pitch in cricket?
The ICC T20 World Cup qualifiers are underway, with eight teams competing for four spots. Meanwhile, the Super 12 stage is set to begin on October 22 with the clash between hosts Australia and New Zealand. The Australian grounds are using drop-in pitches, decks that are prepared away from the game's venue and literally "dropped" in.
Why does this story matter?
- Several grounds in Australia and New Zealand have been using drop-in pitches for bilateral series and tournaments.
- However, many grounds refrain from this method and aim to prepare the pitches in traditional manner due to conditions and other reasons.
- Along with other factors, drop-in pitches were introduced to make the game interesting.
- These pitches also take out the home advantage.
Drop-in pitch and its advantages
In simple terminology, drop-in pitches are prepared elsewhere before getting installed at the venue. The drop-in pitches allow the stadiums to host several other sports as well as concerts without covering the center wicket. These pitches also enable the option to carry out modifications. The curator can manufacture a bowler-friendly or batting-friendly drop-in pitch for a game.
The history of drop-in pitches
Drop-in pitches were first introduced to the world of cricket during the 1977 Kerry Packer rebel cricket series in Australia, also known as the World Series Cricket (WSC). The organizers did not have access to traditional cricketing venues as the tournament was outside the official cricketing laws. Therefore, Packer rented two football stadiums, where the pitches were transported. Hence, drop-in pitches!
How are these pitches carried?
As per ESPNcricinfo, the drop-in pitches are carried in a steel frame. These pitches are 24 meters long, three meters wide, and 200 millimeters deep. They weigh around 30 ton. The machine that carries the pitches has to be as long and as wide.
Do these pitches transform?
Several venues, including the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), have been using the same old drop-in pitches. As per a report in ESPNcricinfo, these pitches are durable. The soil and the grass on top of them are similar to traditional pitches. The drop-in pitches usually retain the original traits because the soil and the atmosphere where they are manufactured do not change.
The work is always on!
It is important to note that the curators work on the drop-in pitches during the off season (foot holes, grass, among other factors). However, the pitches are then left open to the elements. The actual work on the pitches begin once installed at the venue.
T20 WC opener was played on drop-in pitch
Days before the T20 World Cup opener between Namibia and Sri Lanka at the Kardinia Park Stadium, a crane installed two drop-in pitches inside the stadium. These pitches were kept just to the south of the stadium during the AFL season. They were installed in two pieces each in the center. The pitches were rolled, cross-rolled, and watered ahead of the match.
When India aced it twice!
The concept of drop-in pitches is not common in India. However, Team India won the Border-Gavaskar series Down Under on two back-to-back tours (2018/19 and 2020/21). Notably, pitches were installed at the venues in both of these series.