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Old Trafford turns away from the sun with a new pitch
Old Trafford cricket ground
The problem of 'sun stops play' is being addressed at Old Trafford

Work has started on turning the square at Old Trafford cricket ground in Manchester.

The world famous pitch, which has always been aligned east-west, is finally being rotated 90 degrees.

The aim is to prevent late afternoon sun interrupting play at the home of Lancashire cricket.

The realignment, which is part of a major redevelopment of Old Trafford, signals the end of the Brian Statham and Stretford ends.


Lancashire's long-suffering supporters have become accustomed to disappointment having seen numerous title challenges fall victim to the Manchester drizzle.

Lancashire's Kyle Hogg
Late September sun can stop play at Old Trafford

However, it was sun, and not rain, that stopped play at Old Trafford during their final game of the 2009/10 season in September.

Nottinghamshire were chasing the title in a rain-ravaged County Championship game when, late in the afternoon on day three, the clouds parted and the sunshine broke through.

A scattering of fans emerged from beneath their umbrellas looking forward to some cricket.

But, no sooner had play got under way, when it became apparent that the low sun behind the bowler's arm made it too dangerous for the batsmen.

Scott Read was commentating for BBC local radio. He said it showed that turning the square was a move in the right direction.

"It was bizarre, really," he said. "We'd had all this rain and just as we had this brief window in the weather, they had to stop play because of the sunlight."

"It doesn't happen often and, thankfully, it didn't affect the outcome [Notts won the game and the Championship] but this was the biggest game of the season, so it's not ideal.

"Thankfully, it won't happen in the future and turning the square will only strengthen Old Trafford's bid to become a premier Test venue once again."


Old Trafford has played host to many of cricket's greatest moments such as Jim Laker's 19 wickets for England against Australia in the 1956 Ashes Test.

Turning the square will only strengthen Old Trafford's bid to become a premier Test venue once again
Scott Read, cricket commentator

Yet why the square was originally aligned east-west remains a mystery.

Turning the square is just part of a massive redevelopment of Old Trafford cricket ground recently approved by the Government.

The scheme, which will create new pitches, two new grandstands and a new pavilion, also includes the creation of a Tesco store on a neighbouring 50-acre site.

Geoff Durbin, commercial director at Lancashire CCC, said he believed that turning the square would help to secure the future of international cricket in Greater Manchester.

"We want to make sure that, firstly, we don't come off for 'good light stopping play' in September which is what happens now.

"And secondly because of the orientation of the ground we can have another five wickets which is good news from a cricket point of view."

The extent of the building work will see all next season's County Championship cricket matches moved to Liverpool, Southport and Blackpool with only one-day games remaining.

However, it's hoped the new-look Old Trafford will be ready in time to host The Ashes in 2013.

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