By Nick Creely
All avid cricket fanatics dream of the perfect backyard cricket pitch.
Cold beers, snags, steaks, maybe a zooper dooper or two, and competitive games of cricket in the backyard with mates – it’s all part of a traditional Australian summer.
But Casey-South Melbourne all-rounder Dylan Hadfield – a cricket “nuffie” – has taken it to a whole new level, creating a backyard set-up in Frankston that curators around the country would envy. In fact, it’s likely to have more life in it than most grounds in Australia.
A now annual Australia Day tradition with mates from the cricket club, Hadfield’s remarkable backyard set-up recently featured on popular Facebook page ‘The Perfect Pitch’ yet again, where it described Hadfield’s pitch as an upgrade “from an already very high standard set a couple years ago. Looking mint, superb”.
That’s some fair praise from a page that certainly knows everything there is to know about what makes a perfect pitch.
Hadfield went all out in 2019, with quality Bendigo Bank stumps, a sight screen, advertising signs, boundary ropes, and of course, the immaculate pitch that from first glance, is a batsman’s dream.
But does it take a lot of work? Hadfield explains.
“It sure does (take a lot of work), he said with a chuckle.
“It sort of started mid-December in getting it all up, and it takes some time to make it look like a normal wicket on a Saturday – it took a good month, probably a couple of hours a week, to get it done.
“It started out when I was younger, dad put in a wicket to do throwdowns on it as a kid, so it’s a proper cricket pitch now, so it takes a bit of time to get it ready each year.”
Hadfield said that the idea to make it an annual Australia Day tradition came as cricket became more serious on the weekends with Premier club, Casey-South Melbourne, and it was a great chance to enjoy the lighter, more social side to the game.
“This is about the fourth year – it started as a turf pitch to have throwdowns as a kid, and then I sort of realized Premier Cricket can get a bit serious, so I wanted to play a bit of backyard cricket,” he said
“It’s just something we do with the boys from the cricket club each year to have a bit of fun.
“Premier Cricket is pretty serious, so it’s good fun playing backyard.”
While Hadfield concedes there was plenty in it for the batters on what was a hot Australia Day, he was pleased with what it offered the fast bowlers.
“It actually had a fair bit of pace and bounce in it – the boundaries are obviously a little bit small, so it was good to see some pace and bounce,” he said.
“It kept things pretty interesting.”
It’s going to be extremely interesting to see how Hadfield can raise the bar on an already impressive backyard ground, but if this year’s immaculate effort is any indicator, Melbourne’s traditional Boxing Day test match may well be moving to Frankston.