This article appeared in Pitchcare Magazine
Issue 26 – August / September 2009
As the end of the cricket season fast approaches, what are groundsmen up and down the UK – from Aberdeen to Jersey – planning? We take a snapshot of the work to be carried out, from county and outgrounds, to schools and club sides.
Aberdeenshire Cricket Club
Head Groundsman: Ken McCurdie
Number of staff: One (part-time in season)
Number of pitches and brief details: Cricket Ground with 14 pitches. Typical cricket square construction.
Time constraints: Being in Aberdeen it is vital that renovations are completed as early as possible whilst soil temperatures are conducive to germination and growth.
Proposed programme: Cut to 8mm, scarify to 6mm in 4 directions, overseed, pre-seed fertilise, topdress, restore levels and irrigate. Solid tining will be carried out once the square is soft enough. Autumn/Winter will be applied at a later date. 120 bags of topdressing plus another 20 or so for levelling, 3 bags of grass seed, 1 bag of root enhancer, 2 bags of fertiliser. Proven effective over the last 17 years. Approximately £1300 including the rental of a tractor mounted scarifier.
Machinery used: Allett 42″ mower, Sisis TM 1000 scarifier, Cyclone spreader, Meter-Matic topdresser, 3 metre Levelute.
Manpower: All in-house.
Aims and objectives: To achieve a thatch-free profile with good, healthy grass cover and root development.
Effects of Recession: None, at the moment.
Head Groundsman: Mark Jolliffe
Number of staff: Six.
Number of pitches and brief details: 5 squares and 4 grass nets (58 pitches). 54 of which are Surrey loam and 4 Ongar loam.
Time constraints: After the last game on 15th August, and before end of September (weather permitting).
Proposed programme: Shave down all squares to 3mm, scarify to 5mm depth in at least 3 directions and collect arisings, irrigate square if necessary to soften surface and run variseeder (empty) over squares in 3 directions to create thousands of holes before 2 more passes seeding at 35-40g/m.sq., apply fertiliser at 35g/m.sq., and, finally, topdress with compatible loam (approximately. 200kg per pitch). Brush and dragmat all squares to rub in materials. Fence off squares and irrigate when necessary.
Machinery used: Paladin fine cut mowers, Graden ‘swing wing’ tractor mounted scarifier, Kubota ride-on rotary (to clear arisings), Sisis tractor mounted variseeder, Charterhouse Rink 1010 trailed topdresser, pedestrian fertiliser distributor, John Deere 4500 tractor to do overseeding and topdressing, fork lift truck to move pallets of loam, 2 tonne trailer.
Manpower: All work done in-house.
Aims and objectives: To carry out the works as planned, efficiently, professionally and on time. Objective is to recover surface levels and grass coverage.
Effects of Recession: None at the present time.
Kenilworth Wardens Cricket Club
Head Groundsman: Geoff Calcott
Number of staff: One contractor (me) plus one helper
Number of pitches and brief details: Two grass squares. Main Square: 12 Kaloam pitches plus 3 new pitches. 3rdXI/4thXI Square: 5 Kaloam pitches plus 2 new pitches.
Time constraints: Main Autumn work to be completed by end of September.
Proposed programme: Deep spiking at monthly intervals to differing depths from October to January, ground conditions permitting. Application of liquid worm controller – early September. Power scarification with Graden in 3 directions plus pick up of resultant debris. Overseed with 2 x 25kgs dwarf perennial ryegrass (mixture of 3 cultivars). Application of 2 x 25kgs Autumn/Winter fertiliser. Topdress with 7-8 x 25kgs bags of Kaloam per pitch. Deep spiking to 100-125mm depth at 50mm centres with Groundsman spiker at monthly intervals from late October to end January – ground conditions permitting.
Machinery used: Graden scarifier, Groundsman deep spiker, Pedestrian Walkover sprayer.
Manpower: None – except me and my helper!
Effects of Recession: None, at the moment.
Other comments: Sorry, cannot tell you my prices individually but you wouldn’t get much change out of £110-£120 per pitch for the main autumn renovation. Deep spiking is around £80 per session for an average 10-12 pitch square.
Lytham Cricket & Sports Club
Head Groundsman: Les Stephens
Number of staff: Only me!
Number of pitches and brief details: An ECB Premier League cricket pitch with 24 wickets, grass practise nets with 8 wickets, 3 bay artificial cricket net.
Time constraints: As some surfaces are shared, a two week window is all that is available between seasons.
Proposed programme: The entire ground is treated for weeds by Complete Weed Control in late August (£400). The entire ground is scarified in-house and arisings collected with boxed triple mower. The entire ground is vertidrained using large solid tines on rough turf and pencil tines on fine turf, £850. Fine turf areas are overseeded in-house (seed £750) and then 25 tonnes of Kettering loam (£1,500) is spread on fine turf areas (£350) and brushed in using in house compact tractor. Contractor – Construct Golf, providing they are competitive!
Machinery used: Compact tractor and SISIS tractor mounted scarifier. John Deere Triple mower. Seed and fertiliser spread by hand. Two different vertidrain machines plus Cushman spreader with JCB loader.
Manpower: All in-house.
Aims and objectives: To provide the best possible playing surfaces for the three sports within our limited budget. To ensure that we provide the best possible growing conditions for grass so that it can thrive even under extreme conditions of drought, flood, heat and cold, and withstand attack from weeds and disease.
Effects of Recession: None, but we always obtain competitive quotes.
Other comments: Programme recommended by STRI. Also recommended by ECB Lancashire pitch advisor Paul Tatton. Other work based on experience of ground and its requirements.
Uxbridge Cricket Club
Head Groundsman: Vic Demain
Number of staff: One summer, full-time (April-October).
Number of pitches and brief details: 2 cricket pitches (13 and 10 strips), a bowling green, 8 tennis courts (3 grass and 5 tarmacadam) and a rugby field. Squares were laid with Kaloam and topdressing changed to Surrey Gostd Supernatural around ten years ago. Outfields have 1 inch of topsoil over gravel.
Proposed programme: Work will start on September 21st and, hopefully, be completed by mid October, weather permitting. Cut down to 2mm, scarify in 3 directions, powerbrush, run over with variseeder in as many directions as possible, apply Scott’s preseeder and overseed with MM50 using a fertiliser spinner, dragbrush into seedbed, level and repair old footholes, apply 6-8 bags Gostd Supernatural per track and cover ends with germination sheeting. Water in if necessary.
Machinery used: Dennis Sport, Sisis Autorotorake (brush and scarifier), Sisis Variseeder, fertiliser spinner, home made straight edge, Sisis Truspread, Sisis Lute, dragmat and levelling lute.
Manpower: All work done in-house, only contract out if we don’t have the resources.
Aims and objectives: To provide a first-class facility whilst bound by the financial constraints of a small club.
Effects of Recession: Would have liked to hire a tractor mounted scarifier or Koro. Won’t be able to deep drill. Probably not a great concern, but we are always keen to improve our standards.
Somerset County Cricket Club
Head Groundsman: Phil Frost
Number of staff: 4 at the county ground – 1 practice ground.
Number of pitches and brief details: 30 pitches at County Ground, Taunton, 4 pitches at the Bath Recreation Ground and 36 pitches at Taunton Vale (practice ground). All pitches soil.
Time constraints: Start after our last against Durham on 29th September. Weather permitting work takes 2-3 weeks.
Proposed programme: Each square will be heavily scarified four ways, heavy overseed, topdressing 10-12 bags per pitch, soil cost £3500 and seed cost £2000. It has worked for me over the years. The programme is tweaked from time to time. I used to feed the square with pre-germinate fertiliser. Now I wait to do it when the new seed has germinated and feed with 6:5:11.
Machinery used: Graden scarifier, Sisis Topspreader.
Manpower: All carried out in-house.
Aims and objectives: To get a thicker and tighter sward of grass.
Effects of Recession: None, at the moment.
States of Jersey
Head Groundsman: Steve Landick
Number of staff: 24 (not all will be involved with the pitch renovation work, 11 at the most, with a head groundsman at each location).
Number of pitches and brief details: 5 cricket squares, all but one with an artificial Notts Turf wicket on the end of the square. All cricket squares are on the natural sandy/loam soil, except for two which have been constructed on sand dune and one on a heavier soil after a playing field was cut and filled.
Time constraints: Weather and preparing winter games pitches for the weeks to come.
Proposed programme: Each square will be watered heavily. Footmarks forked and keyed in with loam. No forking of ends takes place as this increases height of ends. Sisis 600 and Dennis scarifier used to remove surface material. Square will be double cut, and at the same height as if it was a wicket. Seeding of the whole square with a general cricket square mix at 35 g/m sq (mixture of ryegrass cultivars). A specified Surrey Loam with a minimum of 28% clay content is applied to the whole square up to 5 feet behind the stumps. Loam is then luted and worked into the surface ensuring existing levels are maintained. Groundsman spiker with solid tines later, once seed has germinated and square has been well wetted by the autumn rain.
Machinery used: Sisis 600 rotorake, Dennis FT Mower with brush & scarifier cassettes, Cyclone seeder, Muck Truck, BLEC Seeder and a number of lutes/rakes/shovels. Groundsman spiker with solid tines.
Manpower: All work will be carried out in-house, no outside contractors will be used.
Aims and objectives: To be as quick and as careful to complete all the operations within a period of good weather. Completing the work as soon after the cricket season finishes, therefore giving the renovation work maximum chance of a good recovery.
Effects of Recession: No cut backs as such but less money available for materials and machinery, therefore one has to be more conservative on their use.
Other comments: Surrey Loam is preferred because it has been used over the years. Therefore, we keep consistency by continuing to use it. Cost per tonne is around £180. We use between 3 to 5 tonne per square according to square size. Mascot R9 grass seed will be used this year. This is a mixture of four cultivars – Ace, Sauvignon, Greenflash and Greenway. Investment in good quality materials is very important. If budgets are continuously cut then the quality of the products could have an effect on the playing surface.