Redevelopment on track at Manuka Oval. Photo: gr
The overhaul of Canberra’s Manuka Oval continues at a fast pace, with a new cricket pitch installed at the iconic ground and a reinvigorated outfield to be in place in coming weeks.
Head curator Brad van Dam said the ground was on track to host the Prime Minister's XI in January, ahead of games for the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
‘‘The whole ground has been dug up, including the old cricket pitch and old surface,’’ Mr van Dam said.
Progress on the upgrade and relaying of turf at Manuka Oval. Photo: Graham Tidy
‘‘About 24,000 or 25,000 cubic metres of soil has been removed and taken to Mt Stromlo and the National Arboretum and now we have been rebuilding the surface slowly.’’
The works are the first resurfacing effort since the ground's construction in 1924 and will also see state-of-the-art drainage and irrigation installed and extra seating capacity added.
With the new cricket pitch already in place, an army of trucks is currently laying gravel ahead of soil and new turf.
‘‘The pitch was the first thing to be put in place because it needs to be rolled and consolidated to be hard enough for cricket,’’ Mr van Dam said.
‘‘It’s had brand new wicket soil plus turf and I am now in the process of making the pitch as hard as possible and growing the grass.
‘‘The closest thing to what we do in green keeping is preparing a lawn tennis court and our field is about the same as a bowling green or a golf fairway.’’
He said high clay content soil would give the new pitch more bounce and pace with a cracking surface to provide variable conditions for bowlers and batsmen alike.
‘‘Our old soil didn’t really crack up as much and didn’t have those big cracks with the extra variable bounce.
‘‘I think you will find out later on in a four day or a five day match if the pitch will start wearing a bit more.’’
Mr van Dam said he spent two to three hours each day rolling, watering and mowing the pitch, with grow cloths and heat mats in place during weekends to promote grass growth.
‘‘Within the green keeping community around Canberra, everyone is quite excited,’’ he said.
‘‘This type of job is very rarely done to this type of level of ground around the country and my peers all around the country are interested to see how it is going as a once in a lifetime job.’’
He said the only other full reconstruction of field in Australia was at the historic Adelaide Oval.
‘‘The project will really start moving along now," he said.
‘‘They’ve got most of the gravel in around the ground and they will start putting soil in and hopefully turf early next month so it is exciting in that sense.’’
Around 1400 extra seats in two new rows will be added at Manuka as well as three dugouts for players and officials.
The ground’s capacity will increase to more than 15,500 as a result of the works, which follow the installation of new lighting last summer.