Cricket pitch maintenance: February
25th February 2017
In his latest column for The Cricketer Magazine, our MD and former first class groundsman David Bates explains why time is of the essence when it comes to getting the cricket ground in order ahead of the playing season. Here is is advice on what cricket pitch maintenance tasks should be carried out at this time of year…
Aside from carrying out regular inspections on the cricket pitch, hopefully everyone has enjoyed a good winter break and is now looking forward to a busy season ahead.
Despite uncertainties over what the weather holds for us over the next few months, before we know it the playing season will be upon us so there’s really no time to waste in making sure the infrastructure of the ground and club site is up to scratch. It’s worth bearing in mind that this is the busiest time of year for companies involved in anything cricket-ground related; from agronomic supplies to ground covers and machinery maintenance, clubs across the country will be placing orders and booking appointments. This can mean long lead times so, by acting early, you stand the best chance of getting the supplies you need or repairs and maintenance tasks on kit done in time for the start of the new season.
In terms of cricket pitch maintenance, mowers are particularly important as a sudden uplift in temperatures will trigger spring growth in the grass plant, and you will need to start mowing. If they’ve already been booked in for a service and blade sharpening, you will need to organise their return as soon as possible but if they’ve not yet been attended to book them in for the next available slot – the last thing you want to do is get caught out and miss the all-important first cut of the year.
Now’s also time to stock up on all the essentials you keep in your shed – including your usual seed, fertilizer, loam and chemicals for spraying. By stocking up you’ll be ready for action in any eventuality. It’s also worth having a good clear out of the shed now, organising your working environment for when things get busy.
Other things to look at around the ground include checking any mobile pitch covers for leaks or damage – especially if they’ve wintered outside – and also getting flat sheet ground covers out to check for damage by vermin. If you need to replace a cover or get it fixed remember those long lead times, so the sooner you get this job done the better. Also give the rest of your ground equipment a thorough check over – make sure sight screens are in good order and don’t need painting. It’s well worth taking a leaf out of the NatWest CricketForce book and putting together a working group who can carry out any essential cricket pitch maintenance tasks that are identified – the painting of site screens being a perfect example.
By doing all this in advance you stand the best chance of being ready for action as soon as pitch preparation work needs to start, and will avoid any nasty surprises like discovering worn or broken kit when you really need to use it.