World Series Cricket had a problem. How do you turn a football centre-field into a world class cricket pitch in the middle of winter?
Curator John Maley had an answer; you grow them indoors in climate-controlled greenhouses. The pitches would be grown in huge, perforated trays and heating equipment would propagate growth of the couch grass beneath large glass panels above. Outside, Australia was in the grips of winter, but in the greenhouses it was summer all year round.
The next problem was how to move the massive concrete trays to the grounds. A hovercraft was suggested at first, but that was not suitable. Ultimately the mammoth trays were winched out through the roof of the greenhouse and taken to the ground by a low-loader truck. It was no small task, but World Series Cricket was no stranger to overcoming adversity.
The technique was successful and used to provide pitches right around Australia. Maley’s method had provided pitches that were fast and true from the very first ball and yet another aspect of the game had been changed for all time.
For WSC, the players were ready and the stage was now set, but was success in the wings?
The base for John Maley’s ‘drop-in’ wickets under preparation inside a newly constructed hothouse. (Image courtesy News Ltd)