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Laying pitches to picking wickets

india Updated: Dec 31, 2011 00:00 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
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When Peter Siddle saw the drop-in pitch on Boxing Day at the 'G', he knew what to expect. It wasn't his past outings on his home ground or the years spent bowling on all sorts of pitches that aided his understanding, he read the pitch better than most because he once worked as a pitch curator in the Melbourne area.

HT had earlier reported the curious case of Nathan Lyon, who went from an apprentice curator at the Manuka Oval in Canberra and later as curator at the Adelaide Oval, to an off-spinner bowling for the national team. While Siddle's rise wasn't as dramatic, he too once prepared pitches he would later wreak havoc on.

During his early years of club cricket at the Dandenong Cricket Club, the defending Victorian Premier League champions, a 16-year-old Siddle was also an apprentice pitch curator at Dandenong's home, the Shepley Oval. Speaking to HT, former Dandenong coach, Brendan McArdle, shared a young Siddle's pitch-curating days. "In his first year with the club, he was one of the boys who apprenticed as a pitch curator at our ground. He did it for about a year, but soon he was concentrating on cricket full-time."

McArdle added that Siddle's belief of making it as a top-notch cricketer saw him focus on cricket. "When he was 17, he had already played for the Victoria state team in different age-groups, by the time he made the Victoria U-19 you could see that his focus was on becoming a professional cricketer… play for his state and then his country," said McArdle, who played first-class cricket for Victoria and is currently a talent scout with Cricket Victoria.

India's brave fielding champion, Eknath Solkar, was also a pitch curator at the Hindu Gymkhana in Mumbai, where his father was a gardener.