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March to the core

by TurfCareBlog




Welcome hope you all had a good session or three of pre season rolling and the squares are firming up nicely for the coming season.

In this Months blog we are going to be looking at soil profiles/cores and if you don’t really know much about what lay under your square this is a good place to start.

In my experience as a pitch advisor for Cricket and pro groundsman in Football l have found what lays beneath your feet is so key ,in terms of managing your surface and renovating it. What lies below can have long term affects on how high the ball bounces ,how consistent it plays ,if its not right below it doesn’t matter how good it looks on top.

Dan Smith of Denton cricket club (also a Sussex CCC apprentice) has just had a mini report done,see below what he has learnt from having the soil structure assessed and examined and how he can use this report going forward.

I am not going to go over top on what to do this month if you want some finer details of what to do in March,go onto the main page and look at last March’s blog, which has some stuff on squaring up corners and pre season rolling and much more.

March to the season



Dan Smith ,Groundsman at Denton Cricket Club near Newhaven

A typical soil profile taken from the Denton CC square ,for assessment.


Question and answer

Dan what did you learn by taking soil profiles and having them assessed and how do you think you will be able to use its findings.

Being a “small” league cricket club with low budgets etc, to think about having our cricket square assessed would not  be top of our agenda, and  l am sure other clubs in the same position as us with regards to budgets and facilities would say the same. But… now we have had our square assessed l was amazed to know the finer details to exactly what was laying beneath the surface, and the options to look down to get on top of it.
From the results of the assessment l am keen to approach people within the Sussex  foundation to help us push our square in the right direction, l think now we have it in black and white the true context of how our square is,  l am hoping funding options become available from different avenues not only within the club but outside.

The report has been vital in reaffirming the clubs initial thoughts that we need a heavy roller for the long term to meet our ambitions of producing the best wickets we can.

We as a club have a meeting set up with Hamish (our area territorial club rep)from the Sussex cricket foundation soon, so we can show him our report so he can see exactly what is going on with our square and hopefully move things forward.

Before you took the soil profiles what was your understanding of what was under the surface and its importance?

I took on looking after Denton’s cricket square in June 2018, So my knowledge of what was under the playing surface was not great. What l did  not realise and know the importance of the word “thatch” ,what l did know was the square historically  as players like myself would often notice a lot of balls were keeping low/not great bounce.

I tried to help this problem in the winter of 2018 by giving the square a proper scarification, which to my knowledge has not really happened for a fair few years!

In what ways did the reports findings help you plan for your renovations and winter works?

The report is a massive help for a club like us, as we have been recommended a scarification depth to go with (to help reduce the organic matter under the surface).
To my knowledge spiking has never happened on the square either ,so my aim will be to arrange a end of season spike on the square to a depth of 4/5 inches.


Heads up for members of the Sussex Association of cricket groundsmen,we have highly subsided hire rates for end of season machinery ,which includes a scarifier able to work to a greater depth than many scarifier,not all scarifier are the same .


What am l getting at ,well as you can see knowing what’s under your square is vital so l am trying to encourage people to be aware of this no 1 .There are options including getting a pitch advisor to assess your square at some point this year (for the price roughly of a bag of grass seed)

Whatever information you gain can only be of benefit to help you better use your available resources and if there is a problem the findings can help you plan to rectify it ,over the short ,medium time long term.



Sussex Association of Cricket Groundsman foundation – Training day

What a great day ,with 25 attendees in attendance and some great teaching from Andy Mackay and Brian Fletcher along with some great food(Jan Smith)and a great location thanks Chris Geere.

Not only was there some great teaching and insight there’s was also some practical work outside❄️


Picture above ,showing practical demonstrations of how to square up the corners of the cricket square as in the 3-4-5 ,Pythagorean theorem.


As l say the day was very fruitful from the association point of view and we hope from those who attended .

I ve been a Groundman for over 20 years and still learnt something from the training day ,everyday a school day for a groundsman.




Jobs for the Month

As l said above for more detail and links look at last march’s blog on this site .

I am aware we don’t all have the luxury of time l have ,so if that is the case ,get help or till then prioritise works to fit .l certainly respect your time pressures.

  • Pitch preparation, cut out 10/12mm.
  • Pre season rolling continue to build up weight gradually as the soil firms up and reducing the height of cut gradually.Possible verticutting of the squares if growing
  • Application of a Spring fertiliser to strengthen weak grass after rolling and cutting and improve colour and health.
  • Fences  down around squares
  • Overseed any bare ends
  • Worm control if needed
  • Mark field positions and square the square
  • Order of spring sundries such as seed fertiliser and white paint .


Next Month ,I will bring you some information of hybrid pitches which is happening not far from me and l am looking forward to see how this develops especially at club level.


Brian 🌱

Any questions post below and l ll be happy to answer if l can.

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