Cricket: New pitch technology set to benefit touring Blackcaps

New Zealand cricketers have always had to battle the harsh and unpredictable winter conditions during off-season preparations.

But those days are all-but over, thanks to a new Christchurch facility known as 'The Marquee'.

Based at Lincoln University, the Marquee, allows New Zealand's premier cricketers to train on various conditioned pitches that match those found at grounds across the world.

New Zealand Cricket grounds and facilities manager Ian McKendry has spent the past five years and countless hours perfecting the surfaces.

"There's a lot of research and development and innovation that's gone into this to ensure that we can replicate environments that the teams will expect when they head overseas."

For his team, the mission was clear and now accomplished.

"It's being able to dial in the type of pitch that you want to suit the conditions the guys are going to be facing.”

The concept has Blackcaps batting coach Craig McMillan full of praise ahead of their upcoming tour in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in November.

"We're able to train, practice and work on a lot of things that normally you don't get the chance to do, especially in a New Zealand winter."

Cooler conditions have previously restricted our best cricketers to training in environments and on surfaces that bear no relevance to the conditions they face during the summer.

"Previous to this, everyone had trained on artificial pitches indoors, which just do not get the same simulation as you would on grass," McKendry said.

But for the first time, the Blackcaps can prepare for the hot and dry pitches they'll come up against later this year.

"When we go to the UAE, we know what we're going to come up against, so the guys are able to train and practice on them," said McMillan. "It means by the time we hit the tour, we'll be ready to go."

They won't just be ready for the upcoming tour. Thanks to the new facility, the Blackcaps will now get a headstart on home shores for conditions across the globe, before getting to those destinations.


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