Eden Park’s Mark Perham is one of the world’s best turf managers.
With 27 years behind him in turf management of both golf and stadium facilities, Mark has experienced all the satisfactions and frustrations that the profession has to offer.
During his near ten year stint as turf manager he has witnessed many changes in the sports landscape, including the increased expectations of turf quality, as well as the frequency of sporting events on it. Mark has globe trotted the world investigating sporting stadiums to bring together the best innovations and technologies of turf science and applied to Eden Park to create a surface that is regarded as one of the best playing surfaces in the world.
“The quality and expectations from the players has changed quite a bit, especially for rugby. The players don’t like to get muddy anymore,” Perham said with a laugh.
“The increase in games means constant maintenance, but we’re lucky since we’re pretty well resourced. It can be pretty tough for those who lack the facilities and resources.”
In fact the schedule for Eden Park is absolutely frantic. The stadium will host a BLACKCAPS v South Africa One Day International on March 3rd and must then get ready for a rugby league match between the Warriors and the Manly Sea Eagle just 16 hours later.
“Unfortunately it means working all night. Hopefully the cricket should finish early,” Perham said with a grin.
“New Zealand will win quickly.”
While Perham may be as busy as ever, the increase in events has seen a wide range of highlights during his time at the Park.
Not surprisingly he cites last year’s World Cup as a major highlight, but also refers to hosting two of the Chappell Hadlee matches in the 2009/2010 series and international fixtures in any sports as something that him and his team always treasure.
The next big ticket items that the Eden Park staff are preparing for is the BLACKCAPS games against Zimbabwe and South Africa. One Twenty20 against Zimbabwe and a Twenty20 and ODI against South Africa will be played at the venue during February and early March.
Perham says everything is ready to go, even though a large amount of his crews’ time has been has been spent on the renovations to No.2 Ground.
“Number one looks great. Best I’ve ever seen it at this time of year. It should be pretty good to bat on.
“Number Two ground is (also) coming along nicely. It’s been the main focus since the world cup and should be close to finished by end of next week. That’ll be used for a lot of domestic cricket so that’s pretty exciting.”
While we can expect a good surface for the batsmen in the upcoming limited overs games, Perham doesn’t believe flat and fast is always best. He believes the ideal surface is very dependent on the format being played.
”Times are changing. In Test matches and the longer version of cricket there needs to be something more for the bowlers like we have seen in the recent India v Australia series, while batsmen probably get decks to their liking during the shorter formats of the game.”
Take his word for it. Who are we to argue with 27 years of experience?