How to Plan Out Pitch Positions? As I sit here on yet another cold, wet and miserable May afternoon yes, its cricket season and yet again we have had our game called off. My thoughts have turned to a dilemma that I’m sure fellow groundies from all walks of life, be that amateur or professional have experienced at some point or other.
After reading yet another updated fixture list I’m sitting wondering how to plan the 50 plus senior games and 20 odd junior games that I have on my 12 pitch square. I say 12 but actually its 11 as pitch one has been ripped up, levelled and reseeded so don’t plan on using that this year. Pitch 8 which is the final senior track before the junior ones start is now also not to be used for senior pitches this season as it has, miraculously after 49 years, moved itself too close to the surrounding bungalows!
Lots to Consider
The junior tracks will be pretty easy, as now I’ve got 5 with the inclusion of the newly mobile pitch 8 with them only taking between 5 and 8 days to prep for small sided 16 over matches then l’ll not worry too much. Historically each age group gets given one track for the season and with their fixtures being fairly spread out this has been a simple task.
The senior tracks will be a little more of a challenge, two senior Saturday sides, a Sunday side and a ladies team who all play at weekends plus the usual T20 matches and Over 40’s midweek there will have to be a plan in place, or will there?
A few years ago, I shared ground duties with a policeman, he loved planning track use and would be able to tell you which pitch every game for every team would be played on for the entire season by the end of March, meticulously planning everything in minute detail and putting it into his “Magic diary”.
Four Season’s in One Day
This was his method and his alone and in my opinion, would have been perfect in Australia where the weather is dry and predictable. Sadly, Norfolk isn’t like this and it certainly upset the bobby on numerous occasions as the forecasted sunshine traded place with hail, sleet and thunderstorms leaving his diary out of sync and him fuming!
In my 30 odd years as a volunteer groundsman I’ve learned at least one thing, you cannot predict the UK summer so don’t try and be prepared. The square I currently look after has a fairly sandy base with an exposed outlook so for the most part will dry rapidly. Something that you must take into account in pitch planning, differing subsoils make a difference to prep and planning.
Being a laid-back Suffolk boy, I don’t tend to panic too much and usually only plan a month at a time but I’ll always have a backup plan in case the worse happens (usually the fixture secretary ringing me on a Monday to say I’ve rearranged 4 games for next week!)
I try to get the premier games to the middle of the square and if possible give the first XI the first use of a new track however sometimes the following Saturday it plays better for the second XI than it did on day one. Weather permitting, I try and give pitch prep at least two weeks, I’m lucky to have both RORO covers and multiple sheets to cover them with as required. The tracks will be used for anything up to 5 games depending on the level at which the match will be played.
With this and the junior track prep I usually spend between 20 And 30 hours at my ground per week not including the 24-mile round trip to get there as long as my work and life allows. I try my hardest to not have adjacent tracks in use or in prep at any one time and always try to repair the track as soon as possible after the last match, not always possible but with all things being equal its usually ok.
So to summarise and to answer my own question “Cricket pitches….How do you plan yours?” I’d say its each to their own, have a plan but be prepared to change it and always, always have a backup! Good luck to fellow ground staff everywhere.
Please leave any comments in the reply box below.
Kev Springall (Groundsman @Topcroft Cricket Club)
Maybe missed our last blog on the most common questions asked about fertiliser- https://turfcareblog.com/guide-to-fertilising-on-sports-pitches/