A drop-in pitch is a pitch which is prepared outside the actual stadium and then transported inside the ground at the start of the cricket season.
Stadiums such as the MCG, the Adelaide Oval or the Optus stadium in Perth, don’t host just cricket matches. They also provide the turf to football, rugby and AFL contests on the same grounds.
Once the ground is done hosting its cricket matches for the season, the pitches are taken out to greenhouses or other grounds where they are made for the rest of the year. It is one of the major benefits of having a drop-in pitch.
The MCG pitches, for example, are 24 meters long, 3 meters wide, 20 centimeters deep and made up of black soil with a layer of grass at the top. They are prepared in steel frames, sort of a cake tin.
When its time for cricket, the pitches are brought on a 30-tonne customized trailer and put onto cement slabs that sit 20 centimeters deep inside the ground. Once the cricket season is over, the pitches are pulled up by the same machine that brought them in and pits where they set are filled with sand and then the artificial turf is rolled over them so the ground looks like one uniform circle of grass.
The other benefit of using a drop-in pitch is that it can be chosen where to put each pitch. The soundest one can be put in the center so the actual Test match can be played on it.
Although, drop-in pitches have more downsides than the upsides. The early observation was that the pitches were too flat and took away the natural speed and bounce for which the Australian pitches were known around the world.
The theory going around was that because of drop-ins were prepared in steel casings that held them together, they didn’t crack and deteriorate the way regular pitches do. But over the past few years, there have been signs that drop-ins don’t necessarily all have to benign tracks.
The drop in pitch at Adelaide has been praised for providing pace and bounce to the seamers and show some spin for the spinners which produced some exciting tests.
To be concluded, drop-in pitches are good for the multi-sport grounds like the MCG, the Optus Stadium or the Adelaide Oval but wherever we can use the natural turf wicket, we must utilize it in order to have a good game of cricket and retain the uniqueness of the geography involved in the sport.Published 29 Dec 2018, 15:44 IST