The Western Australian Cricket Association, in partnership with the Western Australian Government and Cricket Australia, has commenced construction of the full set of drop-in wickets to be used at Perth Stadium.
Building is underway on a total of five drop-in wickets, with the pitches to be curated at Gloucester Park, before being transported and installed at Perth Stadium in mid-2017 and ready to play by the following summer.
The WACA and Cricket Australia believe the 2017-18 Ashes Series between Australia and England presents an ideal international event with which to open the state’s premier sports facility and continues to work towards ensuring that opportunity remains an option for the WA Government to consider.
The drop-in wickets, as well as the pitches for the Perth Stadium practice nets, will be constructed under the same methodology as the prototype wicket that was trialled earlier this year, with that trial having analysed the tray design, wicket soil/clay selection and performance, construction methodology, turf species selection, wicket performance under match conditions and tray-lift technique.
The world-first trial of the prototype wicket was conducted in February and after just five months of curation produced promising and positive results.
- Consisted of five days, two sessions (AM and PM) per day and 90 overs per day of testing, to replicate Test Match conditions.
- Was conducted after five months of curation; about a third of the time usually allocated to wicket curation.
- Revealed the prototype pitch had achieved playable conditions under international standards and requirements in just five months of curation.
- Received independent input, review and analysis from Adelaide Oval Head Curator Damian Hough.
- Was analysed by Hawk-Eye, world leader in ball-tracking technology.
- Produced Hawk-Eye data that placed the prototype wicket’s Pitch Bounce Rating in the "medium/low” category; one level below the current WACA Ground pitch, which is classified as "medium”, after just five months’ curation.
- Showed the prototype wicket as having more carry than the current WACA Ground pitch, but slower pace.
- Was reviewed and all results signed off by the assembled Cricket Committee.
Independent analysis of the prototype pitch by Adelaide Oval Head Curator Damian Hough commented that "pitch pace should improve significantly as the pitch matures” and labelled the overall methodology in the trial wicket’s construction and curation as "outstanding”, with "no glaring deficiencies that need addressing”.
Feedback was also sought from the 46 players who took part in the trial and produced the following data:
- More than 50 per cent of participants assessed the bounce of the pitch as "medium”.
- Feedback on the consistency of bounce ranged from "variable” (58.7% of responses) to "consistent” (36.96%).
- The pitch was largely perceived to have produced "consistent” pace (50%).
- Overall assessment of the pitch was: "very good” (4.44%); "good” (51.11%); "above average” (35.56%); "below average” (8.89%).
The success of the prototype trial has identified the methodology behind its construction as best-practice and will result in the same techniques being employed in the building of the set for Perth Stadium, which will use the prototype as a blueprint for:
- Tray design.
- Wicket soil (clay) selection.
- Construction methodology.
- Turf species selection.
The prototype wicket will form part of the block being prepared for Perth Stadium and will provide curators with a more mature pitch from which to gain further insights and guide the development of the set in its entirety.
WACA CEO Ms Christina Matthews said: "The WACA Ground wicket holds a significant importance to a lot of people, as well as world cricket, and it was always our intention to make our best efforts to replicate those characteristics as best as possible in the drop-in pitches.
"I want to highlight and thank the WACA’s Turf Manager, Matthew Page, for the tremendous work he and his team produced and it would also be appropriate to acknowledge the input and assistance with this complex project of the WA Government, Cricket Australia, Adelaide Oval’s Damian Hough and Gloucester Park.
"Matthew and his team developed a process and execution that was labelled by independent analysis as ‘outstanding’ and ‘well advanced from where we expected the pitch to be’ and that performance is a point of pride for the WACA.
"I want to be really clear about our expectations, though: we will not be seeking to build a set of wickets that display the characteristics of a WACA Ground pitch from 50 years ago.
"What we are extremely confident in producing is a pitch that replicates the modern WACA Ground of the past couple of decades. It will be fast and it will have bounce.
"That is what we are seeking to achieve and that is what I believe we will achieve.”
Sport and Recreation Minister, Mia Davies said: "The State Government has been working closely with the WACA and Cricket Australia over a number of years to ensure that Perth Stadium meets their requirements, including design and construction of the drop-in wickets that replicate the speed and bounce of the existing WACA Ground wickets as closely as possible.
"The facilities for fans and players will be absolutely world-class, providing an outstanding environment for the best possible cricket to be showcased to the world.
"Cricket also played an important role in the seat colour selection and the natural colours chosen will ensure fielders have the best possible line of sight to take spectacular catches. We look forward to continuing to work with cricket to finalise a comprehensive schedule of matches.”