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New pitch is safe, teams are assured by tournament organiser

The tournament organiser of the Emirates Airline Twenty20 tournament at Dubai's new cricket venue is confident the recently laid wicket will not pose a safety risk.

DUBAI // The tournament organiser of the Emirates Airline Twenty20 tournament at Dubai's new cricket venue is confident the recently laid wicket will not pose a safety risk to the competition's professional players. Curators usually regard a bedding-in period of as much as 18 months as basic for preparing a wicket to the standard expected by first-class players. However the pitches at The Sevens, which will play host to Surrey, Sussex and Cape Cobras in this month's tournament, have been laid for less than four months. Matthew Jackson, the tournament organiser, said the county sides had expressed concerns but his own fears have been allayed.

"The [ground staff] have worked miracles. The main thing we want to make sure of is that it is not a dangerous pitch, with the counties coming out here pre-season," he said. "They have always had concerns, because of how quickly it has come to fruition. If anything, it will be low, which is fine. The counties are fine with that, so long as the ball doesn't come through past their ears." Emirates, the owners of The Sevens, brought in Rathey Shyam, an Indian groundsman who was formerly curator at the Feroz Shah Kotla international stadium in Delhi, a month ago to oversee the final preparation of the wicket.

It was not only Shyam who was imported. The wicket block is made up of 70 per cent clay transported from India. While organisers hope the pitch will initially be characterised by low bounce, Shyam expects that to change. "Within six months I believe this will become the fastest pitch in Dubai," he said. With more rain forecast this week, Shyam will have his work cut out preparing the wicket in time for Friday's first match.

Fly Emirates, the UAE team, will renew their acquaintances with the English charity side the Lord's Taverners. The Taverners will have in their ranks Chris Adams, the former England batsman who is now the head coach at Surrey. He will be able to get first-hand knowledge of the intricacies of the playing surface before his county side play here on March 19-20. "We will get feedback from Chris Adams when he plays here, what gives me confidence is the calibre of the curator they have brought in," added Jackson.

pradley@thenational.ae

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