Overhaul required says pitch expert

Editorin Cricket

Top groundsman Tony Hemming believes that the majority of the wickets in Bermuda need an overhaul if the standard of play is to improve.

Hemming, head curator of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Global Cricket Academy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was in Bermuda to lend a helping hand in an effort to boost the country's chances of hosting One-Day Internationals (ODI).

In an effort to help the Island meet the standard for ODI's, both regionally as well as internationally, Hemming hosted a week-long cricket pitch preparation and maintenance seminar at the National Sports Centre (NSC).

While noting that there were a few pitches in good condition on the Island, including the surface of the NSC, he tipped his hat to the groundsmen who are working with limited resources.

"The majority of the pitches were found to be 40 years old with the exception of two of the ovals and the National Sports Centre," said Hemming, who left the Island yesterday.

"Generally a pitches lifespan is between eight and 15 years depending on how well a turf manager has looked after it.

"Cricket pitches don't improve, it is a matter of how well the turf manager can prevent them from declining.

"The pitches prepared by the groundsmen are doing an excellent job considering the resources that are available."

The suggestion of hiring full-time groundsmen was put forward, although in the current economic climate it seems easier to be said than done.

Given that a host of fields in Bermuda are used for both football and cricket, it would also prove a tough ask.

Hemming understands the size of the Island limits where sports can be played, but also is of the belief that continual checks on fields such as Sea Breeze Oval, Somerset Cricket Club, and Lords in St David's are vital throughout the year.

"Presently the groundsmen are only working for the summer months and there needs to be full-time groundsmen appointed to these grounds.

"There are groundsmen only working on a voluntary part-time basis, putting in eight hours a week and in the winter months they are not even on site.

"St. Davids and Bailey's Bay are 40-year-old pitches and in need of reconstruction and a full time groundsman."

Revealing what needed to be done to the playing surfaces in order for pitches to improve, Hemming also threw his support behind Bermuda hosting international fixtures, whether it be T20, ODI or a Test match.

"Looking at the NSC pitch, the grass cover on the outfield and wicket was excellent and I see no reason why international cricket can't be played there.

"I see no reason why you can't have international cricket at NSC.

"If you have enough grass cover as they have, there is no reason why they can't play."

Article sourced from :-Royal Gazette online

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