x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Mohan Singh trying to curate the perfect pitch at Zayed Cricket Stadium

Mohan Singh is the man tasked with keeping the surfaces at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Cricket Stadium up to scratch, writes Amith Passela.

Mohan Singh has been curator of the pitches at Zayed Cricket Stadium for nine years. Sarah Dea / The National
Mohan Singh has been curator of the pitches at Zayed Cricket Stadium for nine years. Sarah Dea / The National

Three Test matches, 20 one-day internationals and four Twenty20 internationals have taken place under Mohan Singh's watch in the nine years since he became the curator of the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Australia, England, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies have all performed on wickets that are the work of the 36-year-old Indian.

But he says he gets as much satisfaction from watching domestic cricketers play at the ground as he does witnessing the best players in the world ply their trade in the emirate.

"I enjoy my work and always try doing my best to provide the best playing surface for any game and have the grounds in tip-top condition throughout the year," he said.

"It wouldn't be possible without a good team and a management that has backed me to the full.

"I am fortunate to have a dedicated staff to carry out the day-to-day tasks with the least supervision."

Mohan's workload has increased with Abu Dhabi Cricket Club's two new grounds - the Nursery Ovals - now complete and being readied for the 2014 Under 19 World Cup.

With up to 150 games a season, which include Asian Cricket Council tournaments, matches played by the MCC, visiting English county sides, academies and schools, as well domestic competitions, a great deal of planning has to go in to making sure the pitches can cope with the high volume.

"Our work begins during the off season with pesticides and fertilising, then the grass is re-laid; both the outfield and the pitch," he said. "There is a lot of salt content in the soil here so the work is also a continuous learning process.

"During the summer more than 80,000 gallons of water is required for the grounds and in the winter the same quantity is used over a two-week period."

Mohan came to Abu Dhabi in September 2004 after training to be a curator in India at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali, where he had been employed since 1994, first as a ground supervisor as well assisting the coaches in a number of sports including tennis and swimming before his focus moved on to cricket.

He had three offers and took up the job at Abu Dhabi instead of positions in Uganda and within India.

"I decided to take the offer from Abu Dhabi because I get an opportunity to work abroad at a new international venue and it is also close to India," he said.

One of his first major jobs was preparing the pitch for the stadium's inaugural one-day game played between India and Pakistan in April 2006.

Mohan has continued to learn during his tenure at the stadium and he has been sent on three different curator courses conducted by the Asian Cricket Council in Kuwait, Qatar and Malaysia in the past to help him gain valuable experience.

But despite nine years in the position, there is no sign of Mohan's enthusiasm for his work beginning to wane.

"Apart from the earning money to support my family, the satisfaction of providing the best surface to play is my biggest contentment," he said.

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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