Renewed calls for SCG drop-in pitch

Austadiums   |  Friday 5th July 2019

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The AFL has requested the SCG again consider introducing a drop-in pitch, however the push has been met with strong opposition, while it’s currently logistically impossible in any case.

The SCG Trust has created a drop-in wicket committee to explore advances in drop-in wicket technology and consider the needs of all sports partners, saying it was set up at the request of the AFL.

While the Sydney Swans has traditionally been the major winter tenant at the ground, it is currently also being extensively used for Rugby League and Union (and Football in summer) while the Sydney Football Stadium is being rebuilt next door.

The increase in traffic at the ground has led to major turf issues, reported back in March and April when large sections of turf were replaced following a Waratahs game and Melbourne Victory player Terry Antonis collapsed on a raised edge of turf and had to be carried from the field during an A-League match. Sydney FC relocated their next home game to a different venue.

At the time, Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia pushed back on the idea of introducing drop-in wickets and the SCG Trust indicated they had no plans to introduce them. While it seems the Trust may now be considering following the Adelaide Oval and MCG, cricket authorities continues to push back, saying it would result in “boring cricket”.

It's believed it’s logistically impossible to transport portable pitches into the ground at present unless further stadium developments are made. It's likely it wouldn't be seriously considered until the ageing Brewongle and Churchill Stands are replaced and a tunnel is built that allows the required machinery to enter.

The Sydney Morning Herald published that the redevelopment of the SCG under a previous administration was deliberately designed to make it difficult for the drop-in trays to be transported onto the famous venue.

Plans were drawn for the new $197.5 million Messenger, Bradman and Noble Stands, which were opened in 2014, during former chairman Rodney Cavalier's 13-year reign.

Cavalier, who resigned in 2014, remains adamant the SCG will not follow in the footsteps of Melbourne and Adelaide.

"Both are in AFL cities where the dominant business is AFL, that's not true in Sydney," Cavalier said.

The SCG and the Gabba are the only major Test venues in Australia not to have switched to a drop-in pitch.

"I'm refusing to concede it as a possibility," Cavalier said. "I took the same view when people asked if cricket was going to Homebush. It was not going to happen. I never budged. That attitude was correct."

Not everyone in cricket circles is against the idea however, with former NSW captain and Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin open to the prospect, saying the Adelaide Oval wicket was proof it could work.

 

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