March 24, 2003

Couch-grass could have a future in New Zealand pitches

New Zealand Cricket is experimenting with couch-grass as a prospective grass for its pitches.

High Performance Centre turf manager, Karl Johnson said an experiment will be done on one of the recently-built practice strips at Bert Sutcliffe Oval at New Zealand Cricket's complex at Lincoln University.

"We had some couch-grass loaded on a train from Auckland for a three-day trip to put down on the practice pitches to see how it will handle our winter," he said.

The appeal of couch-grass is its durability and the fact that because it is such an aggressive grass, it can allow the re-use of pitches within a month. That makes it of particular significance to Lincoln because of the volume of cricket played there.

"It does take different management, but it is used right around Australia and former Auckland groundsman Richard Winter, who now works at the WACA in Perth, believes it should be able to be used in New Zealand.

"The Legend variety of couch is used at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Melbourne has reasonably similar weather to us," Johnson said.

"The benefit to us at Lincoln is also that we don't have winter sport on the ground," he said.