Toronto: The Global T20 is preparing to welcome dozens of stars from overseas, from both Test-playing nations as well as Associate countries. There will be players from USA, too. However, another set of visitors traveled from Indianapolis, in the midwest of the United States, and reached Toronto on June 1 this year. They spent close to a month in a car park, about 1,500 feet away from the cricket ground in Brampton, before shifting into the CAA Center.
These are the drop-in pitches that are going to be used over the course of the GT20, which is scheduled to be held from July 25 to August 11. The same set of pitches were put to use in 2015, when a group of retired stars – led by Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne – played three exhibition matches across the United States. Now it’s Canada’s turn to make some history – never before has cricket here been played on pitches transported from somewhere else.
The man in charge of these pitches is David Agnew, the 34 year old Australian who has worked as a curator for the last 10 years. Agnew arrived in Toronto on May 30, a day before the pitches were driven in. There was less than two months left for the first game of the GT20.
Early in June, Angew covered the pitches for ten days. He hand-watered them six to seven times a day, since the seeds need to be moist to swell and germinate. The covers were off, on June 10, but he continued to fertilise and water the pitch.
The weather posted a big challenge throughout. “One day it was hot, one day it was windy, one day it was overcast,” says Agnew. “It was really hard to manage the watering. But we got there and germinated the seeds.”
The pitches were moved to the outfield at the end of June. It was important for the roots of the grass to get as low as it possibly could in the pitch profile. That, says Agnew, is what gives the pitch its pace and bounce.
As for how the pitches will behave, Agnew suggested they would change in character as the tournament wore on. “We’ve got 22 matches here, which is eight games on each pitch,” he said. “Early on, there will be a bit of moisture on the pitch because we need it to last. They should flatten out by the middle of the tournament. And by the end they’ll be quite worn, so you might get spin. There should be something in it for everyone.
“We will provide surfaces that are safe, consistent and fair to all the sides. That sets up a foundation for a good entertaining game and makes the fans happy.”
Gurmeet Singh, the chairman of the GT20, hailed the work done by the Agnew and his team. “I am amazed to see the work done by the team for creating the ground,” he said. “It is their brilliance that has made this possible. Making an outfield for the tournament like GT20 is tough because of the parameters and the level of cricket. David and team have done fabulous work.”