Lights put to the test ahead of Prime Minister’s XI action

Manuka Oval’s lights are being positioned correctly to ensure no area is unlit on the field. Pictured are Pat Delaney and Wayne Webster.Before West Indian master blaster Chris Gayle targets the Australian bowling attack, the newest additions to Canberra’s skyline are getting their own workout.

Manuka Oval’s historic transformation into an elite sporting ground is another step closer to completion, with the first of the six light towers undergoing target testing on Wednesday.

It’s hoped the lights will be turned on for the first time at the end of next week.

That will leave plenty of time for their inaugural public appearance for the Prime Minister’s XI day-night cricket match with the West Indies on January 29, followed by the Australian cricket team’s first visit to Canberra on February 6.

The intricate process involves workers climbing the 47m-high pylons to individually align the 94 lights on each of the six towers to a specific marker on the ground’s surface.

They look through a cross-hair, similar to what is used in a sniper rifle, to ensure each light hits its mark before moving on to the next one.

Each tower contains four different types of lights – wide, medium, narrow and extra narrow – which are fanned out to ensure an equal coverage on the playing surface.

The process takes about a day for each tower, at which time crews begin the task of flicking the switch and calibrating the lux readings of the lights.

For cricket, the readings need to be a minimum of 2500 lux in the centre of the ground reducing to 1200 on the boundary, while for AFL they need to be 2500 for the entire surface.

Design criteria was laid down by the National Capital Authority to ensure the lights blended into the inner-south suburb.

Black louvres are installed on each light to prevent spill outside the ground to reduce the impact on residents in the nearby area.

It’s a similar problem English-based firm Abacus encountered when they installed lights at iconic ground Lord’s.

Having completed projects at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston, as well as in India, Bangladesh and the West Indies, project co-ordinator Dean Hargreaves was pleased with how the Manuka Oval installation was progressing.

‘‘In terms of commissioning, it’s exactly the same as what we’ve done at Lord’s and Trent Bridge,’’ Hargreaves said.

‘‘It’s got the same louvres on for environmental impact and light pollution.

‘‘We checked it after in the resident’s houses and found the readings were within the planning constraints, so we’re not expecting any problems here.’’

The lights will also allow night-time AFL games to be played in Canberra for the first time, with the GWS Giants set to face St Kilda on April 13.

ACT Government project consultant Ron Maginness said the lights would be the most sophisticated at any sporting ground in Australia.

‘‘Most of the other light towers that have been installed are close to 20 years old, so this is the latest and newest installation,’’ Maginness said.

‘‘There’s no head frames or light towers that are inclined like this anywhere, so in terms of the engineering of the mast, it’s quite specific to Manuka Oval.’’

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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