Mental health stress for curators

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Australia’s No. 1 curator Damian Hough has revealed the mental pressure pushing his peers to breaking point, but insists there shouldn’t be concerns over Perth Stadium’s ‘exciting’ old school strip.

Humble greenkeepers are grappling with performance pressure equal to players, and Adelaide Oval curator Hough has registered his concerns with Cricket Australia.

“I 100 per cent think that and have spoken to Cricket Australia about it. With the MCG, it is three weeks out (and) scrutiny is at a different level,” Hough told The Advertiser.

Victoria’s Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson and Will Pucovski are all dealing with cricket-related mental health issues.

Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough says ground staff are more scrutinised than ever. Picture: Sarah Reed
Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough says ground staff are more scrutinised than ever. Picture: Sarah Reed

Ongoing pitch problems that threaten to derail a lucrative Boxing Day Test have attracted serious media attention and heat for head curator Matt Page.

“We are just not equipped to deal with it, we cut grass for a living. The microscope seems to be on you and the last five years it seems to have got worse with social media,” Hough noted.

“It is always on the table with mental health.

“You can imagine when it doesn’t go to plan, doing the best you can and everyone is talking about it.

“There are bad times, but when things do go right it is unbelievable, a great feeling.”

Australian spinner Nathan Lyon (third left) chatting with Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough before the Adelaide Test against Pakistan earlier this month. Picture: William West/AFP)
Australian spinner Nathan Lyon (third left) chatting with Adelaide Oval curator Damian Hough before the Adelaide Test against Pakistan earlier this month. Picture: William West/AFP)

A venue could be suspended from hosting international cricket for a year if five demerit points are accrued over a five-year period for inferior pitches.

A suspension would have massive financial implications for state associations, which increases pressure on curators already striving to satisfy players, fans and broadcasters.

Hough’s mentor Les Burdett has been drafted to assist in Melbourne’s Test pitch preparation.

“I feel for them as the scrutiny is at another level. It is quite stressful,” said Hough, who concedes both he and Burdett were ‘driven by a fear of failure’ preparing Adelaide strips.

“My understanding is they are trying to get an even contest between bat and ball.”

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