The Lord’s had quite a few surprises up their sleeve in the 1999 World Cup. Along with a brand new spaceship press box on the Nursery End, they had come up with an innovative idea of covering the pitches — a hovercraft. Borrowed from technology that supplies amphibious vehicles to the terrestrial armies, this was a huge improvement in terms of pitch cover. The novelty lied in the fact that it was a raised movable platform that allowed the pitch to 'breathe' and prevent dampness set in.
This was 13 years ago. In the mean time the corridors of power have shifted east and India have wrested supreme dominance in world cricket. Yet most of the pitches in India still are covered the primitive way, with layers of carpet and plastic. It's considered to be a foolproof solution but for a cricket board that is currently in the midst of an unprecedented economic windfall.
The real problem
But not everything is bad with the primitive ways. The plan of covering the entire field with plastic covers, according to a South African journalist, is a ‘brilliant idea’. “It’s like not taking any risk at all. Even in Sri Lanka, the entire ground is wrapped in plastic. I wish they could do the same thing in England where it’s always raining,” said the journalist.
The devil however lies underneath the covers as most stadiums have dismal underground drainage system. Monday’s first match in Bangalore was delayed for almost 40 minutes due to showers in the morning. But there have been worse situations. A 30 minutes of deluge washed away the entire tie between Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers at Eden Gardens on April 24. The pitch was fine. But umpires cited a soggy outfield for abandoning the tie.
Water didn't drain out of the field immediately and that prompted clogging at different parts of the turf. It led to seepage and ultimately the damp spots. The turfs in South Africa are better. They only cover the square but depend on the excellent underground system for draining out the water.