The curation of a cricket pitch is a very artistic skill. The curators have to consider the weather, the cork ball and the varying amounts of sand and grass in order to make the pitch fit for play.
Once the pitch is curated, in order to disallow any external factor to degrade its quality, the ground staff covers the pitch. Law 10 of the Laws of Cricket suggests that when possible, the pitch and the area 4 feet beyond it must be covered. Whenever possible, the bowlers’ run-up area must also be covered.
On the day of play, the covers shall be removed. The covers must be removed mandatorily before the toss as the captains of both the sides have to inspect it. Based on their inspection, the captains decide whether it would be wise to bat first or chase considering the status of the pitch.
Apart from the inspection of the captains, the covers must also be removed for the umpires to judge the quality of the surface and deem it suitable for play. Moreover, the ground staff also has to lay down the popping crease and set the stumps before play begins.
In case the weather halts play during a match, then not only should the pitch be covered immediately but must also be uncovered as early as possible. This is to avoid the pitch getting damaged by rain or dew, which can lead to a sticky wicket; one that poses tremendous risk of injury.
Covering the pitch is thus a fundamental part of ensuring a healthy pitch appropriate for competitive play.