In the Media
BEYOND THE BAY OVAL LIGHTS - Bay Oval Training Facility
Welcome back to the first Beyond the Bay Oval Lights of the 2021/22 season, where we catch-up with the progress of the Bay Oval Training Facility. We caught a glimpse of the training facility in use with the White Ferns in camp in the Western Bay of Plenty in late June.
A guided walk-through tour revealed the enormity of the facility and the thinking outside the square of the Bay Oval management team, that turned a search for indoor grass wicket training, into a reality.
The concept is based upon a Canadian greenhouse that provides germination in the harsh Canadian climates. After much consultation, Canadian firm Cravo who specializes in retractable roof covering, was chosen to supply the structure that houses the training facility. Putting together, what was a jigsaw when unpacked from the containers, was Kiwi firm Exal Industries.
The Bay Oval Training Facility is a joint venture between NZ Cricket and the Bay Oval Trust and is the North Island base for the Black Caps, White Ferns and the NZC winter training squad. It will allow the country’s elite and emerging players, climate-controlled training all year round, on grass.
Built upon the principle of a retractable roof (with a third able to be opened at any time) and removable sides - the ability to control the rain-flow and sun on the pitches, gives the facility an unmatched ability to grow grass twelve months of the year.
We caught up with Bay Oval Turf Manager Jared Carter, to find out about the practicalities of operating, the only one of its kind, cricket training facility in the world. There are some unique challenges that the new training facility brings to its daily operation.
With a huge roof surface we asked Jared what happened to the rain water from the roof. "We have a soak pit buried underground out the front of the structure. I think it will take a 200mm rainfall event to fill it up, although as it’s soaking away during a deluge, we expect it to take much more than that".
A central part of players using the facility is sight screens. Jared explained that they have a temporary solution at the moment. "It is likely we will pull the black screen into position through a pulley system, where one person can lift it or drop with ease. We only need a black sight screen as the wall is white enough when using the red ball".
Growing grass inside the training facility brings its own special challenges. “It is quite a different environment. When we used the Marque last year and talking to the guys at Lincoln, we knew that air movement is the key to drying the surface out and reducing slime. So lifting the walls slightly to create airflow is essential.
"At times we noticed we have noticed the grass getting a little soft as it searches for light, but that is expected as it is warmer inside, as the grass is trying to grow at a time of year when it should almost be dormant. So growing during the winter months with little daylight hours, plus lack of sunshine, leads to it growing longer and thinner".
The production of different surfaces requires a fresh approach. “The (four) blocks are all built the same. If we are requested to prepare different types of surfaces it will be based upon where our national teams are touring. We are limited to soil and grass types, but we are reasonably confident about producing surfaces close to many of the nations that we tour. For example if we tour the Sub-Continent or the West Indies, then we can take all the grass off or replicate English conditions by mowing at the heights that they mow at. The different surfaces are mainly achieved by adjusting moisture levels or grass length or density".
A key to the successful operation is the rotation of the four blocks. “At this stage we are expecting to get about a month of training per set of pitches, but use each set only once a year when the playing season starts, we can use the practice facilities outside".
With the new trainng facility up and running, the Black Caps and White Ferns are likely to become familiar faces around Mount Maunganui, as they hone their skills in the ‘one of a kind in the world’ training structure.