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Soul patch: Saving the SCG pitch a matter of the heart

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It’s a delightful image, like a good Soviet-era joke. The long-serving chairman of the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, Rodney Cavalier, a cricket man through and through, knew when he left his position in 2014 that he could not personally steer the future debate on whether to rip up the centre square for winter and replace it, in summer, with a drop-in wicket. He foresaw that the football codes, bent on conquest, would never ever give up.

Cavalier knew that as an ex-chairman he would be living too far from Sydney and be too far gone in the knees to strap himself to the hallowed turf or stand before the bulldozers, Tiananmen Square style. So he left a parting gift. The renovation of the SCG, which Cavalier oversaw, did not leave a vehicle entry wide enough to import the drop-ins used in Melbourne and Adelaide. Snookered!
Unfortunately for Cavalier and those who want to preserve the SCG for the use that God intended, it will take more than a narrow driveway to stop the drop-in revolution.

The AFL is eager for a drop-in wicket to be introduced to the SCG.Credit:AAP

Among its unlimited powers, the AFL put a man on the moon and sealed the Chernobyl reactor, or could have if it wanted to, so presumably it could arrange to get a slab of turf in and out of the SCG. It wants a drop-in. Cavalier’s successor, the Greater Western Sydney Giants chairman Tony Shepherd, has set up an SCG Trust committee to assess the AFL’s request that in summertime, we turn on, tune out, and drop in.

The old saying is that if you want to kill an idea, send it to a committee. But Cricket NSW wasn’t prepared to take any risks, writing to the committee: "Drop-in pitches simply do not deteriorate over the four days of a Sheffield Shield match or five days of a Test. In multiple venues, with some of the world's finest curators in control, they continue to have a sameness about them which fail to express the unique characteristics that exist in Sydney with the natural pitch. Deterioration is key to a spinning pitch, therefore there is a real risk that........

© The Age