When Major League Baseball officials compared the history and character of the SCG to Boston’s Fenway Park, they hadn’t considered Sydney might also have its own version of the Green Monster.
At the home of the Red Sox, the 37-foot-high left-field wall, famous for preventing home runs, looms large as the stuff of legend in Boston.
Sydney’s Green Monster, on the other hand, is a 22-yard strip lurking beneath.
The same lightning-fast wicket which helped end this summer’s fifth Ashes Test in less than three days, now promises to be an unlikely factor in the MLB’s historic season-opener this weekend.
Even under the ground’s temporary configuration, the outline of the cricket pitch stands out, with its different coloured grass and central positioning, just beyond the in-field diamond.
The strip hasn’t been used in over a month, but its rock hard presence underfoot creates a unique challenge for Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks players used to pristine, regulation surfaces, with never a blade of grass out of place.
For the $2 million dollars, 250 tonnes of clay and months of planning that went into transforming one of the world’s most historic cricket grounds into a stunning MLB-approved baseball field, the most quintessential part of the hallowed turf has remained.
The Trust is committed to making the ground a world-class, multi-purpose venue. But leaving the wicket in-tact is a non-negotiable.
Fenway’s Green Monster has changed the course of some of the biggest baseball games in history.
The SCG’s version is just as iconic and as England would attest to, just as obstructive.
According to Arizona outfielder AJ Pollock, the centre-wicket will become a target for batters looking to rocket balls into the outfield.
“Oh yeah, that’s going to be interesting. It’s going to be a challenge,” says Pollock.
“If the ball hits it, it’s going to take off. And the Dodgers have some guys that can really smoke the ball.”
The Diamondbacks’ Australian pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, says learning to deal with the bounce and carry of the wicket will become central to the team’s fielding preparations.
“The ball is going to skid off there, we can’t do anything about it. It’s going to play differently for the outfielders so you will see them tomorrow working on it,” he said.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and star Adrian Gonzalez agreed with the SCG’s need for speed.
“If you get one with topspin, it’s already past you. You’ve got to get used to the speed,” Gonzalez said.