T20 World Cup 'square' arrives in New York after trip from Florida


T20 World Cup 'square' arrives in New York after trip from Florida

Pedestrians move past the construction site as work continues on the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium at Eisenhower Park
Pedestrians move past the construction site as work continues on the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium at Eisenhower ParkAFP
Ten cricket pitches have completed their journey up the east coast of the United States from Florida to New York state and are being installed in a new stadium built for next month's T20 World Cup.

The "drop-in pitches" have been prepared in Florida since December and were recently transported by 20 trailer trucks up the I-95 highway to the venue in Long Island.

The surfaces, which will soon be used for games including the highly-anticipated clash between cricket giants India and Pakistan, were developed by Australian Damian Hough, curator of the Adelaide Oval.

Winter conditions in New York meant that the grass needed to be grown in the warmer climate of Florida before being transported and installed.

Hough said the journey from the base in Boynton Beach, Florida, to Nassau County in New York state, took over 24 hours, with regular stops for checks and hydration of the grass.

"From a turf perspective, we made sure that there was no weather or elements getting on them with regards to wind or rain. They've come through, the ones we've received so far, we couldn’t be happier, they've come through in flying colours," Hough said.

The condition of a cricket pitch, also known as a wicket or track, has a crucial bearing on the game, impacting the speed and bounce of the ball and the degrees of spin or movement off the seam of the ball that can be utilised by bowlers.

Chris Tetley, head of events for the International Cricket Council - organisers of the World Cup that will be co-hosted by the United States and several Caribbean nations - said the pitch production had been a huge logistical challenge for the companies involved.

"It's been an impressive piece of logistics that has gone into moving 10 pitches, on 20 trucks, plus backup trucks, with the route planning, the timing through, I can't remember how many different states," Tetley said.

"The permissions to take out agricultural materials through different states, traffic considerations, timing over bridges and we wanted to make sure the trays are out of the ground for as short a time as possible - extremely, extremely impressive," he added.

The temporary 34,000-capacity stadium at Eisenhower Park has already been built with stands and hospitality areas already in place and the outfield has been put in place.

Hough said the surface is likely to be typical of the kind used for T20 matches, where fans expect to see big shots from the batsmen.

"Our ambition is to produce pitches along the lines where they're good quality pitches, minimal spin, minimal seam and ball coming onto the bat and let the players play the shot," he said.

The first World Cup game at the venue will feature Sri Lanka v South Africa on June 3rd but organisers are planning some test events before then.

World-class facilities

Much of the material for the stands has been taken from Formula 1 motor racing and will be dismantled after the end of the World Cup.

But the international standard playing surface will remain in place with the possibility of it being used for local cricket.

"The physical structures we have installed will go away, the park will be returned to grassland, but with the legacy of a world-class cricket field," said Tetley.

"There is also the training facility that we have developed so the cricket community is going to end up with some world-class facilities to utilise.

"As to what happens to the space in the future, that really depends on the local cricket community, Nassau County and USA Cricket as to what they want to do with it. It is there, it is available," he said.

Cricket remains a fringe sport in the United States but is avidly followed by immigrant communities, particularly from the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean.

Last year, a new T20 tournament was launched, Major League Cricket, which was held near Dallas, Texas, at a converted minor-league baseball park.

The Grand Prairie venue will also host World Cup games, as will the country's first international standard venue in Lauderhill, South Florida.

Major League Cricket has attracted a number of international players, with former Australia captain Steve Smith recently signing up to play for Washington Freedom in this year's edition which starts in July.


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