Eden Park’s Turf Team at the top of their game
It’s no secret in domestic cricket circles that Eden Park’s Outer Oval is one of the best facilities on the circuit, a fact recently recognised at New Zealand Cricket’s (NZC) Pitch of the Year Awards.
Eden Park’s Turf Management Team scooped the ‘Domestic Pitch of the Year’ award, the third year in a row they’ve been acknowledged by NZC, and just reward for the time and effort the ‘groundies’ put in over the 2016/17 season.
The Outer Oval received a “very good” rating from players and umpires for every fixture played last season, while also receiving high praise for its training facilities.
“Overall in terms of the way the surfaces are rated they couldn’t have been any better really,” says Assistant Turf Manager Adam Hansen.
“It’s a team effort, the whole Turf Team puts in a lot of energy and a lot of long hours over the summer to try and provide the best training and match surfaces.”
Hansen says the Turf Team take pride in their work considering both the home and away sides in the preparation process.
“We try our best to emulate the match conditions out in the middle to the practice wickets so the teams can get a feel of how the pitch is going to play.”
Eden Park’s surfaces have a Patumahoe clay base, and while Hansen says it’s a great clay for consistency, especially in short form cricket, it makes producing competitive four day tracks more of a challenge.
“We were really happy that New Zealand Cricket were willing to allow a little more experimentation with us introducing a few new techniques in producing four day pitches.”
“We started off with slightly dryer ends and in addition to thinning out the grass at these ends to encourage spin bowling we had a slightly greener surface through the centre of the pitch. It’s a wicket that produced results; they weren’t as flat as they normally are in four-day cricket.”
“For the last four-day game we promoted some cracking in the surface which didn’t really affect the game so much but it was just something for the players and a bit more of a mental challenge because they weren’t used to seeing that at Eden Park.”
With preparation already underway for next season’s wicket blocks, Hansen is also excited about the prospect of potentially preparing a test match pitch once again.
“Producing test match wickets is an exciting time and potentially being under lights with a pink ball for the first time in New Zealand would be a highlight for sure,” he says.
If the awards now stacking up in the ‘groundies’ shed are anything to go by, the pitch for a possible pink ball fixture couldn’t be in safer hands.