The five drop-in wickets which have been carefully curated at Gloucester Park have been moved to Optus Stadium for ongoing maintenance ahead of the first cricket match to be played at the new venue.
Construction on the joint State Government-WACA-Cricket Australia project began in September 2015, with the five drop-in wickets installed in the centre of Gloucester Park using the same wicket trays that will be used at Optus Stadium. WACA turf management staff constructed and maintained the wickets in a composition and practice intended to achieve the goal of replicating the characteristics experienced at the WACA Ground.
In another milestone for the project, the drop-in wickets were transferred from Gloucester Park to Optus Stadium in late April for further curation. You can view the video that was taken of the lift and move here.
The initial prototype, which underwent rigorous analysis in February 2016 after being given just eight months maturation time, helped govern the methodology that underpinned the construction of the additional four pitches.
High hopes are held for the original prototype wicket. The results, taken from the testing in February 2016, showed that while it was generating less pace than the current WACA Ground wicket, it had achieved an acceptable playing surface by international standards in the short time given to preparation. It is hoped that the further maturation time will bring it closer to achieving the WACA’s bold goal of creating a pitch that replicates the characteristics of the historic and revered WACA Ground wicket.
Teams comprised of WACA Academy and Alcohol.Think Again Western Warriors players took part in five days of testing of the pitch, each consisting of two 90min sessions and an overall bowling load of 90 overs a day, designed to capture the wicket’s performance in conditions replicating those experienced in Test Match cricket.
Data was obtained and monitored during the testing period through three primary sources:
- Player feedback from those involved in the prototype test will form a crucial part of the analysis process and provide valuable anecdotal accounts. Players completed a survey similar to that which is asked of team captains at the conclusion of a proper match. It included recording their perceptions of specific and current characteristics of the pitch from the perspective of both batsmen and bowlers.
- Hawk-Eye, the world leader in ball-tracking technology, was employed to provide analysis on the current state of the prototype wicket and capture information on such variables as release speed, pre and post-bounce speed, pace lost off the wicket and bounce height. Hawk-Eye also developed the Pitch Bounce Rating system used by the International Cricket Council to determine the performance of a wicket, which, when combined with data from its extensive bank of pitches around the work, is capable of providing an accurate comparison gauge of the prototype’s performance.
- WACA turf staff used Nuclear Bulk Density Gauge to assess sub-surface conditions throughout the week-long trial. The non-invasive device allowed the monitoring of such aspects as moisture content, nutrient composition and density of clay. WACA staff used the technology on the WACA Ground pitch throughout the current summer of cricket, allowing for an accurate comparison with the prototype and providing insight into variables that could affect performance and the results obtained from Hawk-Eye.
The project engaged the assistance of Adelaide Oval Head Curator Damian Hough to provide an independent assessment of the process to date, from construction to testing.