In this blog we look at the Five Top Things Needed to Prepare a Cricket Pitch, in my own mind as a professional groundman l had a clear idea of what these looked like as your see from my list below.
-Grass cover (density/evenness/root depth) Inc. the height of cut
-Moisture Level in the soil at start of prep
-Rolling volume and timing
-Managing grass density
But upon submitting this question to the communities across social media this question really opened up. Although my original ideal was what five practical tasks where most important many other factors not included in my list were brought up.
-Weather (unpack) climate change is really bringing extremes in either heat or rain and providing a challenge for groundsman at all levels.
-Helpers support network, most recreational Groundsmen are fitting in the ground around their work/home life. Without the practical help from others within the club the role can be a major challenge to be able to provide pitches as he/she would like support is vital.
-Training / knowledge base
-Timing of operations
-Presentation, is the first thing players and officials see and can’t be underestimated and more times than not if everything looks good it’s tells others there’s a Groundsmen here that cares and is giving his/her very best.
-Water pressure (low water pressure challenge), is for some a major barrier in preparing pitches in terms of creating pace and bounce and effective rolling. Water also keeps the plant alive and the soil from breaking up too early and allows the pitch to recover after use.
-Local knowledge of how the square dries and familiarity with surface levels etc
On that face of this it looks like these are less relevant but to most grass roots grounds weather can play a much bigger role in pitch performance than grass cover.
My list also takes time, one thing a lot of grassroots groundsmen don’t have fitting the ground around work and home life.
These points come away a little from my original top five things to prepare a cricket pitch, but are no less valid and without them you will struggle to produce anything worthwhile as they are all key.
-End of season renovation
-Autumn/Winter aeration works
Another consideration is what is in the soil surface such as thatch or rootbreaks or a suitable depth of loam to prepare pitches, often another challenge in recreational cricket on non-pre constructed squares.
The reality is many grassroots groundsmen could well be living with these issues (often inherited) and slowly trying to improve them so there top seasonal or pitch preparation ideas area very valid.
Three Takeaway Tips
Based on Community Debate
No 1 – Grass density
Don’t remove too much grass this will protect the surface during hotter periods and add a little more pace, not being scared to leave pitches a little longer at 6/8 mm
No 2- Timing and patience
Timing is crucial in pre-season rolling but also in season to ensure 1 /even consolidation 2/ not creating roots breaks buy rolling when to wet and smearing, capping or sealing of the surface.3/allowing time for the soil to dry between rolls and the drying of the soil to ensure the next lot of rolling is beneficial.
Timing – when to seed and when not too, when to and what feed to apply at the appropriate time of year.
Timing – pitch preparation periods can vary depending on the time of season.
When to stay off and put the kettle on instead is key.
Needed not just with knowing when to carry out operations like rolling, cutting, feeding but also with the challenges of dealing with challenging weather conditions.
No 3- Importance of renovations
The three Rs of renovations (remove/reseed/relevel) how detailed this is carried out is key to next years pitches and done badly the results can show into next season.
Blog on renovations link-
As l said when l started off the topic l was expecting the same standard answers to what are groundmen’s top five things to prepare a cricket pitch.
The reality really did open up a can of worms and if nothing else reinforced the man factors groundsmen have to consider and apply in pitch preparation works.
What’s your view, please leave them in the comments box below for all to see
Brian on behalf of the TurfCareBlog community
As a volunteer groundsman myself, and at our club I’m the “number 2,” I have become more involved this season due to reduced hours at my place of work because of Covid downturn.
The most frustrating thing is the rolling. Such a time consumer…and yet so important. When time is at a premium, as in “it’s getting rolled this morning however wet or dry, hose on or no, as I have no time the rest of the week!” it is quite easy to go wrong, badly wrong.
However, early on I had to prepare a new strip when our number 1 was isolating and the weather and number 3 were with me and very helpful. First teamers were heard to say, “is this a drop-in pitch, or what?” We are using it for the last time this weekend for our 2s Saturday and 3s Sunday.
Our number 1 has agreed now that rolling early in prep when the moisture is down the profile a bit produces more carry, as the consolidation is better; this has produced better cricket and players have enjoyed this improvement. At the recent committee meeting we were actually asked whether we needed anything to maintain this improving trend. We have requested a reel-brush for our Dennis.
How this extra rolling might affect the grass-root density and the playing characteristics in a few seasons remains to be seen as there is bound to be less air for the roots over winter, etc.
Fortunately I never tire of discussing pitch prep., and players are usually curious about it too. Post season renovations are a different matter as the club rapidly descends into a ghost-town. I have been discussing DEEP solid tining the square for the first time in living memory. That would be a brave step for us to take and I’ve had to explain the perceived benefits countless times. I like to end the discussion with, “Ah, you know it’s not rocket science…..BUT IT IS SOIL SCIENCE!”
I love these blogs and all of the generally very supportive posts and photos in this group. I really appreciate being allowed to participate in it. 👍
Thanks for being part of our community and for your thoughts
A fascinating blog. A veteran of cricket I’ve only been at groundsman ship for three years. Learning all the time. This year not happy with sward density or weed growth, but tracks have more pace. Learning is to crack overseeding and whether the fertiliser regime or verticutting or both has contributed. There’s so much science to it. Also the mystery of how one track performs better than another in spite of same treatment. All makes the task so mind stimulating.
Never stop learning mate
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