Sport

Manuka Oval security beefed up to 24 hour protection for the Cricket World Cup

Manuka Oval has ramped up security in preparation for the Cricket World Cup, positioning guards on the field 24 hours a day to protect the pitch in the build-up to the first match on Wednesday.

A security guard next to the pitch at Manuka Oval on Sunday ahead of the first Canberra game of the Cricket World Cup.
A security guard next to the pitch at Manuka Oval on Sunday ahead of the first Canberra game of the Cricket World Cup. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Fairfax Media can reveal that security guards are being used to prevent intruders from ruining the playing surface as part of a risk-management strategy and ICC anti-corruption measures.

Cricket Australia has a policy of guarding pitches for 48 hours before an international fixture at any venue around Australia, including the Australia-South Africa one-day international and the Big Bash final in Canberra.

But Manuka Oval has ramped up protection for the pitch and anti-corruption protocols by employing a guard to stand by the pitch 24 hours a day more than five days before Bangladesh play Afghanistan in the first of three World Cup matches in Canberra.

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha endorsed tough security measures to ensure the integrity of cricket's showpiece.

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"I think it's very important because this is our showcase event for cricket," he said.

"We need to, as a game, develop in other parts of the world and this is an opportunity for us to send a really big message to everyone to be fair for every team."

Manuka Oval has earned a reputation as a batsman's paradise, with 722 runs scored in the Prime Minister's XI match against England last month. England's Ian Bell belted a record 187 while Glenn Maxwell smashed 136 off 89 balls.

But Manuka Oval curator Brad van Dam is part of a World Cup venue-wide mandate that has banned ground staff from speaking to the media as part of anti-corruption measures.

Curators from around Australia, including van Dam, were flown to New Zealand and told they would no longer be allowed to give detailed information about their pitches before matches.

It is designed to limit the information being fed to bookmakers as part of a wider strategy to stamp out match-fixing and spot-fixing.

The threat posed by illegal overseas bookmakers during the World Cup has cricket bosses on notice to take down untoward activity.

The ICC anti-corruption unit is taking a tough stance to protect the integrity of the game, briefing security staff to watch out for "pitchsiders", a term given to fans who attend matches and capitalise on delayed broadcasts to bet or pass on information to bookmakers.

Manuka will host six teams for the World Cup, starting with an expected sell-out clash between Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Organisers are also hoping to attract bumper crowds to the South Africa-Ireland fixture and the West Indies-Zimbabwe matches in coming weeks. The World Cup started on Saturday and will run for 42 days.

 Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha knows  Manuka well, having been NSW's assistant coach when it won the Sheffield Shield final there last year.

"It plays well to our strengths because of the size of the ground and it's a beautiful outfield," he said.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the pitches, which may be a little different because of the new resurfacing ... and I'm looking forward to the lights.

"When I was with NSW, we played the Sheffield Shield final and a few Sheffield Shield games [at Manuka] before that so I know what to expect."

CANBERRA'S CRICKET WORLD CUP

At Manuka Oval

Wednesday: Bangladesh v Afghanistan, 2.30pm

February 24: West Indies v Zimbabwe, 2.30pm

March 3: South Africa v Ireland, 2.30pm

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