A drop-in pitch is a cricket pitch which is prepared away from the ground or venue in which it is used, and literally "dropped in" to place for a cricket match. This allows multi-purpose venues to host other sports and events with more versatility than a dedicated cricket ground would allow.
They were first developed by WACA curator John Maley for use in the World Series Cricket matches, set up in the 1970s by Australian businessman Kerry Packer. Drop-in pitches became necessary for the World Series as they had to play in dual purpose venues operating outside of the cricket establishment. Along with other revolutions during the series including the white ball, floodlights, helmets, and coloured clothing, drop-in pitches were designed to also make games more interesting. They would start off bowler friendly seaming and spinning with uneven bounce for the first two days of a game. After that they became extremely easy for batting meaning high targets were chaseable on the fourth and fifth days, although there would still be something in the pitch for the bowlers.
In 2005, the Brisbane Cricket Ground (the "Gabba") rejected the use of a drop-in pitch, despite requests from the ground's other users, the Brisbane Lions AFL team. Although drop-in pitches are regularly used in the Melbourne Cricket Ground and in New Zealand, Queensland Cricket stated that Brisbane's weather and the difference in performance meant they preferred to prepare the ground in the traditional way.
Plans to use drop in pitches in baseball parks in the United States have met with problems due to strict rules about transporting soil over state lines. It has been found that the best soil types for drop in pitches are not located in the same states which have been targeted by cricketing authorities—New York, California and Florida.
- Gollapudi, Nagraj: Pitch drops in at Darwin, CricInfo Australia, July 17, 2003.
- Pringle, Derek: Packer's gamble left lasting legacy, The Daily Telegraph, December 28, 2005.
- Queensland reject drop-in pitch for Gabba, CricInfo Australia, August 22, 2005.
- Stillborn in the USA, Cricinfo Australia, January 23, 2007