The cricket pitches shipped from Australia to the US

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The pitches used in the United States at this summer’s men’s T20 World Cup will have had quite the journey when the first ball is bowled at the tournament – being transported over 14,000 miles.

They have come in by ship from Adelaide in Australia, via Florida, as organisers run a major global cricket tournament in the USA for the very first time.

Matches will be played at bespoke venues in New York, Texas and Florida.

The opening game between USA and Canada, and the biggest game of the group stages, India versus Pakistan, will both be played in the States.

There are 16 matches being played in the US, with the other 39 being held in the West Indies.

And getting the States ready for cricket is quite the undertaking, especially when it comes to preparing cricket pitches.

“Our aim is to produce pitches that have pace and consistent bounce, on which the players can play their shots,” said Adelaide Oval pitch curator Damian Hough, who has been tasked with growing pitches in Australia and transporting them to the US.

“We want entertaining cricket, but there are challenges.”

Work on the 10 drop-in pitches started at the beginning of October 2023 when they were initially planted in trays. Each pitch was split into two trays, with the end aim being the production of four match-ready pitches and six practice strips.

A clay-like soil, which is also used at baseball venues in the US, is being used together with a particular grass which is suited to warmer climates and resistant to rolling and heavy use.

The trays were transported in a shipping container on a boat from Adelaide to Florida in January. They have since grown in a warm climate – New York was enduring freezing temperatures at the time – prior to being taken by road to their eventual destination.

To limit the time they are on the back of a lorry, two drivers will be employed to drive each vehicle, limiting the need to stop for breaks.

It will then take Hough and his team 12 hours to bed the pitch in at the venues, some of which are being purpose built for the tournament.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Hough, who is a guest on this week’s Stumped podcast.

“I’m really excited, but I’m a bit anxious at the same time – there are still unknowns.

“This is a long process. What we do know is we’ve given it our best shot.

“We’ve thoroughly thought through every possible outcome and issue along the way and we’re hoping that they’re going to be some good cricket pitches.”

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