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Cricket to farewell Manuka Oval pitch whisperer

April 08, 2021

Long-serving Manuka Oval Head Curator Brad van Dam has announced the most recent summer of cricket will be his final, making the tough decision to step away from his beloved role to spend more time with family.

After almost three decades in the turf industry, Brad has been preparing the Manuka Oval pitch for the past 13-years and will leave behind an indelible legacy highlighted in 2019 when the venue became the 11th Australian Test match venue.

Brad said it was an honour to have been given the opportunity to be Head Curator by Cricket ACT and Manuka Oval back in 2008.

“It was a very hard decision for me to make however it was made easier due to the reason behind my decision. It is a lifestyle choice and wanting to spend more time with my family,” van Dam said.

“As Manuka Oval has evolved over the years it has certainly taken me along for the ride. There have been many firsts at Manuka Oval which I have been lucky enough to be involved in.

“I feel I have achieved what I dreamt about as a curator and more during my time here. The ACT Government has played a massive role in my development as a curator due to the many upgrades of Manuka Oval over the years. These developments and upgrades to the oval has seen the ACT Government attract more and more cricket matches as well as AFL which has given me more opportunity to grow and learn.

“What I feel most proud about is the work colleagues and friends I have made along the way. I am grateful to all the staff that I have helped develop over the years and who have gone on to bigger and brighter things. To my current team at Cricket ACT who I am leaving, you are extremely hard-working and passionate which I will miss.

“I also want to thank everyone at Cricket ACT past and present who made coming to work so much easier due to their passion and enthusiasm for cricket. A couple of people I want to personally thank are former CEO’s Mark Vergano and Cameron French and outgoing CEO James Allsopp who all entrusted me with role as Head Curator and gave me the free reign I needed to get the job done.”

Brad got his start in the industry working as an apprentice at Sydney University before becoming Assistant Curator at the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2003. He was recruited to lead the Manuka Oval grounds team in 2008 and fast became an integral part of the Cricket ACT family and broader cricket community.

The role of Manuka Oval Head Curator has evolved significantly over Brad’s time at the helm, growing the international content at the venue from hosting one Prime Minister’s XI fixture each year to delivering the most recent ‘biggest summer in Canberra’s history’ which included a One Day International, T20 International and a 13 Big Bash matches including three out of the five finals.

During Brad’s tenure, Manuka Oval has been chosen for numerous major international fixtures including the 2013/14 Sheffield Shield final, three pool matches as part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup in 2015, various One Day International matches, the BBL Final in 2015, four pool matches for the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup and Canberra’s first test match in the summer of 2018/19. The venue also hosts regular AFL premiership season games as well as AFLW and AFL pre-season matches.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said. “The ACT Government congratulates and thanks Brad van Dam on his illustrious role as Head Curator for Manuka Oval for the past 13 years,”

“The role Brad and his team have played in preparing Manuka Oval to the world class standard it is, is a direct result of Brad’s commitment, passion and dedication to his work.

“Preparing for Canberra’s first ever Australian One Day International in 2013, BBL Final in 2015, Sheffield Shield Final 2014, the rebuild of the playing surface in 2013/14, Cricket World Cup 2015, Women’s T20 World Cup 2020, countless cricket matches at the international, domestic and local levels, along with AFL premiership and AFLW matches are just some of Brad’s significant achievements during his time as Head Curator.

“I wish Brad the very best for the next exciting chapter.”

Brad was also integral in the re-development of the Phillip Oval precinct in 2018 to become Canberra’s premier second tier cricket venue. The oval plays hosts to Abode Hotels ACT Meteors home games in the Women’s National Cricket League as well as national tournaments, including the Cricket Australia Under 15 National Championships, and local premier cricket. The oval and turf training wickets are instrumental in attracting top level content to the region, providing a secondary training option to Manuka Oval.

Cricket ACT CEO James Allsopp said. “Manuka Oval is one of the most picturesque boutique cricket and AFL grounds in the world, and Brad can take great pride in the legacy he will be leaving behind,”

“Brad’s reputation within Australian sport is second to none. His technical skills, commitment to quality and unwavering dedication is why organisers feel extremely confident to keep bringing the big games back to Manuka, and why players love playing here. Equally, his leadership of the young men and women who have worked underneath him has been inspiring. He has been like a father-figure to so many who have progressed within their own careers due to his guidance and nurturing.”

“There is no doubt this is one of the toughest jobs in cricket and AFL and it requires an incredible amount of personal sacrifice. Brad has worked tirelessly behind the scenes on public holidays, weekends and throughout entire summer periods to deliver grounds to the highest quality, and now is the right time for him to take a step back.

“On behalf of everyone at Australian cricket, we wish Brad all the best for the future, and look forward to inviting him along to the cricket next summer to take in a game from the stands rather than the curators shed.”

Brad’s final day will be Saturday 24th April. The recruitment process to fill the role with commence in the coming days.