Explainer: What are drop-in pitches? Why are they being used in USA in T20 World Cup?

The drop-in pitches have resulted in a lot of unpredictable play.

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Nassau County International Cricket Stadium
Nassau County International Cricket Stadium ( Source : X / Twitter )

The ongoing ICC T20 World Cup marks a historic moment for cricket's globalization, with the tournament expanding to 20 teams and venturing into the United States for the first time. Among the three American venues hosting matches is the newly constructed Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York.

However, this venue has received immense attention for its use of drop-in pitches, a unique solution that has raised questions about playing conditions.

What is a drop-in pitch?

Rather than being prepared on-site, drop-in pitches are created off-location and then transported to the venue. These pitches are built using the same clay, soil, and grass as a traditional pitch, but their construction occurs in controlled environments before being dropped into place with cranes and can be removed once they are used.

Drop-in pitches provide a viable solution for venues that lack permanent cricket facilities or need to accommodate multiple sports. Allowing pitches to be swapped in and out enables cricket match stadiums to be primarily used for other sports like baseball or football.

Also read: Rahul Dravid assesses Nassau County Cricket Stadium facilities

When was the first time drop-in pitches were used in cricket?

While the concept sounds modern, drop-in pitches originated in the late 1970s when Australian media mogul Kerry Packer rented out non-cricket venues for his breakaway World Series Cricket competition. Unable to access traditional cricket grounds, Packer's team prefabricated pitches and craned them into the stadiums. He leased VFL Park (Melbourne), Football Park (Adelaide), Moore Park Showground (Sydney), and Gloucester Park (Perth).

The advantages of drop-in pitches include portability and the ability to curate pitches in controlled conditions. However, many argue that the surfaces may behave unpredictably compared to traditional in-ground pitches due to factors like transportation and adapting to new environments.

Also read: Rohit Sharma embraces newly-built Nassau County Stadium in USA

For the ongoing marquee event, the drop-in pitches at the Nassau County stadium were prepared in Adelaide, Australia by renowned curator Damian Hough before being shipped to New York. It is uncertain if this new approach will be successful in achieving its goal of offering trustworthy playing conditions.

The Indian team recently used the same venue for their first league match against Ireland and their only warm-up match against Bangladesh. The Men in Blue will square off against Pakistan and USA at the same venue.  A total of eight games are scheduled to be played at this venue.

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