May Cricket Diary 2005

Laurence Gale MScin Cricket

May Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc


The cricket season is well under way with several matches now completed, so most of the work will be focused around preparing and repairing wickets. Trying to produce a consistent wicket with fast-medium pace is proving to be quite difficult in light of the recent poor weather, and especially at clubs with no cover facilities.

Many of the pitches will be very slow, the cool, damp weather will have influenced the condition of the playing surfaces. The clay loams will still be quite wet, lacking the sunshine and air temperatures to raise the evaporation rates of the grass plants to help dry out the soil profiles.


This can be carried out by undertaking a proctor test (click on link to see details of carrying out a proctor test). Proctor testing is used to evaluate the compaction characteristics of the soil. This test determines the maximum density the soil can be compacted to, and at what moisture content the soil is most prone to compaction. Proctor testing is useful in determining how compacted a soil is in the field, and is useful in evaluating the effects of soil amendments on density and porosity.

A simpler method is to stick a knife or slit tine into the soil profile and see if it comes out clean. If it does, it's the right time to roll. Rolling should start and finish in line with the direction of play.

Rolling of the entire square should be carried out on three separate occasions during May, evenly spaced out between one another, with a roller weight between 1000-2500 kg. The first pass should be across the line of play, returning along the same path until the whole square is rolled.

Choosing and using the correct weight of roller is also critical for preparing cricket surfaces. See link for Article by Alex Vickers on Rolling cricket surfaces


Continue to verticut, training the grass to grow vertically. If you don't have a verticut option then use a drag brush to help stand the grass up prior to mowing. If using verticutting units be careful not to mark/scar the soil surface, as these scars will be hard to remove as the square dries out.

A spring/summer fertiliser should now be applied to encourage top growth, use at the manufacturer's recommended rates. Rye grasses are more wear tolerant when fed correctly. Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.


It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation is required for pitch preparation and repairs. Irrigate uniformly and ensure the right amount is applied. It's important to ensure that the water gets down deep into the rootzone to a minimum of 150mm to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Allow to dry out and repeat irrigation process. Allowing surfaces to remain dry can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.

Below are typical wicket preparations starting 14 days prior to the match. Marking out the crease should be done with care, using frames or string lines to help achieve clear, straight lines.



Day 14 -12

Cut down to 6mm, hand rake in 2-3 directions to clean out bottom of sward.

Day 12-10

Soak wicket until water is standing on full length of wicket.

Day 10-1

Roll wicket every day if conditions allow in 3 x 20 min spells with 1.5-2 tonne roller to consolidate and release moisture from wicket. Mow as required to keep sward at desired height (6-4mm).

Day 10-5

Keep wicket dry, if possible, with flat sheets.

Day 5-1

Use raised covers, if available, to keep wicket dry but still allow air movement.

Day 3-1

Reduce wicket height to 5mm, mark out using string lines for accuracy.

Day 1

Final mowing at 4mm, overmark, set stump holes.

After match wicket repairs begin with the brushing and sweeping up of any surface debris, soaking the wicket, scarifying, spike, top dress and overseed. Additional work may be required to repair foot hole damage.

Seeding of the ends where the grass is weak, sparse or bare can be continued, and the rise in temperature will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Remember not to neglect the outfield; it too has a major effect on a game if unattended. The outfield should be treated the same as any other natural grass pitch, carrying out regular mowing, aeration and feeding programmes to maintain a healthy sward.

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