SCG curator Tom Parker and Sydney Football Stadium curator, Michael Finch, who both are retiring ahead of the summer cricket season, and (right) Tom rolling the pitch during the Third Test match between Australia and Pakistan at the SCG. Photos by Phil Hillyard.
AS he prepares the Sydney Cricket Ground's hallowed turf ahead of this summer's Ashes tour, head curator Tom Baker stops when he can to soak up the history.
"You can't describe the feeling when you're standing in the middle of the SCG," he said.
"This is where Don Bradman completed the highest individual innings in Australian cricket. This is where St George won its world-record 11th straight premiership. This place reeks of history.
"I'm only the eighth curator at the SCG. I'm privileged to have worked here."
For 20 summers, Tom has had the responsibility of maintaining the sacred turf of the SCG. He will step down from his coveted job at the end of September.
"I've been a green-keeper for 30 years and over that time, I haven't had a summer break," Tom said.
"I'm looking forward to a little less stress. I'll probably do some consulting work."
The former Punchbowl Boys High School student will farewell the SCG after one last resurfacing ahead of the summer cricket season.
Tom said he always wanted to work outdoors, gaining, he believes, his green thumb from his grandparents, who were famous rose gardeners.
After completing his green-keeping apprenticeship at Birrong Bowling Club, he went on to do broad acre work with the former Bankstown council for just under 10 years.
"I worked on the well-known sporting fields, like Kelso, Jenson and Graham Thomas Ovals," he said.
Tom's big break came when he was put in charge of Bankstown Memorial Oval after it was dedicated as an exclusive cricket ground in 1990. He remained as curator there until 1997, before being offered the job to tend arguably Australia's most famous sporting arena.
"It's going to be definitely sad when I leave the SCG," he said.
"It will be an emotional time."
Tom has plenty of special moments while at the SCG, including Steve Waugh's Perfect Day, when the former Bankstown cricketer hit a four for Australia from the last ball of the over against England in the 2002/03 Ashes.
Preparing the wicket for the first under lights Australia verse South Africa Test in 1998 was another highlight.