The first experimental portable pitch was trialled in October 1996, installed at the eastern edge of the wicket table and delivered in two pieces, each weighing 16 tonnes.
The aim of the exercise was to provide better wickets for cricket as well as minimising or eliminating the muddy centre square for football in winter.
The MCG took the international spotlight on Boxing Day 2000 when a Test match was played on a one-piece portable pitch for the first time anywhere in the world.
Six 34-tonne pitches, prepared over a two-year period in the old practice-wicket area, were lowered into place in early November.
The new wicket area covers 700 square metres and sits on a giant concrete rectangle. All 10 centre-wicket pitches are 3.05m wide, differing in length between 24.4m (four of them) and 22m (two pitches).
For the first time since 1992, when the arena was completely reconstructed with a sand-based profile, the MCG provided practice facilities on the oval near the boundary in the 2002/03 and 2003/04 cricket seasons.
With the arena undergoing reconstruction again in October-December 2004, as part of track installation works associated with the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the practice wickets in the 2004/05 cricket season were placed out in the centre - alongside the match pitches - as there was insufficient time to lay them in the outfield.
The practice wicket area behind the Ponsford Stand, including the portable pitch nursery, was taken over for redevelopment purposes, forcing the relocation of the pitches to an enclosure near Punt Road Oval.
There are six practice-wicket pitches - all 11m long and 3.05m wide - located outside the stadium behind the new Ponsford Stand.
The portable pitch technology has revolutionised turf management practices at multi-purpose venues. Since the MCG’s trailblazing, the technique has also been used at Lord’s and in Darwin for winter Test matches in 2003 and 2005.
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