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At 2am today, as thunder cracked and the sky lit up, groundskeeper Bruce headed down to Wade Park

February 9, 2023

Bruce Cousins at Wade Park on Thursday afternoon. The uncovered wicket behind him will be used in the matches. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

Thunder, lightning and rain are the natural enemies of the groundskeeper.

With two big cricket matches looming in Orange, one each on Friday and Sunday, the weather gods toyed with Wade Park groundskeeper Bruce Cousins overnight Wednesday into Thursday.

As the rain lashed down and the sky cracked loudly and lit up, dogs and cats weren’t the only ones in town who were unable to drift off.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Cousins told The Orange News Examiner. “About 2am there were thunderstorms and it was blowing, so I just had to come out and have a look, just to make sure [the covers] were still stuck down.”

Cousins and other staff have been covering and uncovering the wicket all week “in fear of rain”. Asked if the first droplets made his heart sink, he said: “Yep.”

He laughed ruefully at the game of cat and mouse. Covering wickets when it rains is fine, but you can’t just leave a cover on the wicket 24/7 as your insurance, as the ground needs to breathe and not be kept in a hothouse environment. So they go on, they come off. Always with one eye on the sky.

The two Women’s National Cricket League matches in Orange are between NSW Breakers and ACT Meteors. The outfield is looking lush and neat as a pin.

Orange’s Phoebe Litchfield plays for the NSW Breakers, and Cousins predicted a lot of locals will converge on the venue - particularly on Sunday - to watch her bat.

Wade Park on Thursday. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Representatives from Cricket NSW inspected Wade Park in January in preparation for the matches.

Orange City Council said it had been “enhancing facilities at Wade Park for some years to support local cricket and attract first class cricket matches, most notably with the addition of the Carl Sharpe Indoor Cricket Centre in late 2020”.

It pointed to improvements to grandstand seating and additions such as sight screens and turf practice wickets.”

But the job isn’t finished: “Work on replacing the field lighting and revamping the public toilets, changerooms and storage facilities is underway.”

Wade Park was a hive of activity on Thursday afternoon, with students doing coaching clinics with the elite players and team staff.

The ACT Meteors were given Wade Park from 2pm to 4pm for warm-ups and practice, with the NSW Breakers following from 4pm to 6pm.

Looking at the pitch, Cousins said: “It’s ready to go now, that wicket.

“We’ll be covering again this afternoon or this evening, just to make sure it’s not going to get wet. It’ll be right for tomorrow. We’ll have these off at 7am.”

And what if there is more rain tonight, or on Friday morning?

ACT Meteors players ahead of the warm-up and practice session. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

“You just have to judge it as we go along,” said Cousins. “The umpires will be involved. It’s a 10am kickoff and if it’s still raining then the game will be shortened, or whatever the rules are.”

He said that Cricket NSW had asked for a wicket that was greener than he’d normally prepare in Orange.

“You can see there's plenty of grass cover there, it’s rock hard, so it should be a decent batting wicket.”

New ball bowlers could get some zip and climb off the deck, and Cousins said there might be a bit there for spin bowlers.

A production crew was unloading a van on Thursday afternoon. They said there would be three cameras covering the game. Two would be positioned atop a scissor lift some 20-feet off the ground, one at each end of the oval, and one would be in the grandstand.

Commentators will work remotely.

The matches are on Friday and Sunday, starting at 10am. Entry is free and the canteen will be open. Live streaming on

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