Drop-in pitches could soon be seen at one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world, following news that the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust has established a committee to consider moving away from the stadium’s permanent wicket.
A report in the Daily Telegraph revealed the SCG Trust formed the committee “At the request of the AFL”, a move which has drawn the anger of the ground’s cricket tenants.
Cricket NSW released a statement on Tuesday morning reiterating their opposition to the potential change, quoting a recent submission the organisation made to the SCG Trust on the matter.
“The move to a drop-in wicket with lifeless uniformity will create the risk of boring cricket that becomes unattractive to SCG members and attendees and the loss of the premier status of the SCG among Australian cricket grounds.”
“We speak not just for cricketers in the state of NSW but for the game more broadly when we strongly advise the SCG Trust to heed the lessons from other capitals.”
Of the main Test cricket venues in Australia, only the SCG and Gabba still have traditional pitches. The MCG has used a drop-in pitch for decades, while the Adelaide Oval made the switch more recently and Optus Stadium has had a drop-in since opening in early 2018.
The MCG drop-in has regularly served up some of the most dour surfaces in recent years, but the pitches in Perth and Adelaide have been far better.
Adelaide’s case has been helped by hosting day-night Tests, which require extra grass in order to better preserve the pink ball – although the surface in the opening Border-Gavaskar Test last year, a daytime match, was criticised as being too slow.
Last year’s Optus Stadium Test between Australia and India was played on a fast, lively wicket which only produced one innings score of over 300.
The SCG’s surface has drawn much criticism this year as it struggled to cope with a busier schedule than usual, with football, rugby league and rugby union all playing multiple fixtures at the ground, in addition to the regular AFL and cricket matches. The ground has also been named as the venue for the 2020 NRL grand final.
However, much of that extra workload is due to the temporary closure of Allianz Stadium as the rectangular venue undergoes reconstruction works, which are due to be completed by early 2022.