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ICC World Cup: Meet WACA's giant scorekeeper

There's a lot of cricketing history associated with the Western Australian Cricket Association ground here in Perth and it's not necessarily to do with cricketers alone. The giant manual scoreboard here is one of only two in Australia — the other being at the Adelaide Oval. "It was originally built in 1954 and moved a couple of times before it was finally shifted here, in 1987," informed Stephen Hill, the museum curator at WACA.

The giant manual scoreboard at the WACA ground in Perth. Pics/Ashwin Ferro
The giant manual scoreboard at the WACA ground in Perth. Pics/Ashwin Ferro 

The three-storey structure is fascinating from the inside. There are three levels — (i) top level, where the top six batsmen's scores are changed, (ii) middle level, where the second half of the team's scores are changed and (iii) bottom level, where bowlers' figures are updated by a staff of around eight to 12 people. The scoreboard staff have their breakfast, lunch and even perform their bathroom duties (in a temporary toilet set-up on match days) inside the scoreboard itself.

The metal plates bearing the players' names are hand-painted by the staff according to the participating team's colours. It takes around three hours to paint a full team. It's hard work sitting inside the wood and iron structure throughout a match given the searing heat outside.

WACA museum curator Stephen Hill
WACA museum curator Stephen Hill 

But then there are some rewarding moments too, as Hill informed. "Legends like Geoff Marsh, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer (all Western Australians) have come up here and watched matches to just get a feel. And after Gilchrist and Langer retired, we even presented them with their name plates as a token of our appreciation for all the runs they've scored here. So, the job can be quite satisfying too," added Hill.

New Perth stadium won't snatch WACA of Tests
The Western Australian government's ambitious plans to erect a stadium near the existing WACA ground will not take away Test cricket from the iconic venue, clarified WACA CEO Christina Matthews. The WACA is the only privately owned cricket stadium in Australia and according to reports, when the government-backed new stadium will be up in 2018, the WACA will be reduced to hosting Australian Football League matches.

Christina Matthews
Christina Matthews 

"That's not true," insisted Matthews, a former wicketkeeper batswoman for the Western Australian women's team. "That venue will have drop-in pitches unlike the WACA. We are working out an arrangement with the government so that Test cricket continues to be held at the WACA. After all, the ground has a lot of history attached to it," Matthews said yesterday.

It's all in the clay, says WACA curator
WACA curator Matthew Page was very hesitant to talk to the media here yesterday, fearing he would be questioned about runs expected in the upcoming World Cup matches here, which he cannot talk about, according to ICC rules. He also sat on the fence when prodded about the WACA pitch having lost pace and bounce over the years. "There have been slight differences in the clay used in the late 70s and the clay used now.

The authorities dug up the wicket in the early 2000s and used different clay, which saw the wicket lose a bit of pace and bounce. But then, they dug it up again in 2006-07 and used clay that's very similar to what was used in the 70s and 80s to bring the pace and bounce back," said Page, who has been the curator here for over half a decade. Page is eagerly looking forward to Australia pacers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc exploiting the conditions here against Afghanistan tomorrow.

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