2004 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards
By David Saltman and Cricket World
During 2004 Cricket World and Pitchcare invited private Clubs, Schools/Colleges and Local Authorities to send in their nominations for Groundsmen who perform far beyond the call of duty.
This is the second year of the Awards and the number of nominations sent in was nearly double the number received in the inaugural year.
The judges Laurence Gale and David Saltman were delighted with the quality of candidates. Every ground had its own uniqueness and stories of dedication and commitment were plentiful.
While the judges felt that it would be unfair to single out any one Groundsman for praise there were a number of points that were worthy of mention. Many of the sites visited, even in the depths of winter, were in pristine condition and tool/machine sheds immaculate. The depth of knowledge and experience on offer from the candidates was highly commendable.
It was more normal than not for the Groundsmen to have qualifications for cricket Groundsmanship, spraying qualifications and, of course, many years of devoted love spent on producing a top class-playing surface for their public.
Where many facilities work to very tight budgets, it was not uncommon for the Groundsman to supplement the cost of needed items out of their own pocket.
The volunteers regularly give up 25 hours plus a week to the club free of charge.
Those employed remain equally dedicated to the production of fine wickets and outfield facilities.
The judging has been as hard as it could be, and all the nominees should be delighted with their efforts.
The main judging criteria are based around the Groundsman's knowledge, experience and skill level. While a visual inspection of the square and outfield are performed, this is not rated highly in the marking. Marks are also awarded for the amount of games played, the work undertaken, the cleanliness of the machinery and equipment sheds, the budgetary awareness that the Groundsman has and the personal knowledge of new machinery and products available to him.
It is hoped that even more Groundsmen will be put forward for the Awards in 2005, so that their hard work and dedication can also be rewarded.
The three category winners will all be enjoying a trip to Lords Cricket Ground, in April, for their presentations.
Groundsmanship can, at the best of times, be a thankless task. All too often, the vigilant work undertaken is berated by the players, particularly when things aren't going their own way.
Groundsmanship tends to be an isolated but enjoyable affair, working in conjunction with nature. It can be time consuming to say the least, and therefore it isn't a profession that lends itself to regular meetings of like-minded individuals, where back slapping and general adorning praise can be heaped and shared.
Within the top class professional circuit, Groundsmen can look forward to annual awards in recognition for their services, a small payback for work rendered, but on the levels below the first class grounds, there has been scant recognition for all those punishing and diligent hours spent nursing the square.
In 2003 Cricket World and Pitchcare.com put in place an awards system aimed at recognising the hard work and levels achieved by amateurs and professionals alike.
The inaugural awards, categorised into three sections (education, private clubs and local authority) brought a final nine entries.
Certainly the Groundsmen met when doing the final judging were exuberant and enthusiastic, just genuine people who enjoy their vocation and role as the Groundsman, preparing excellent facilities for the enjoyment of all.
During the visits, the main question, asked of me, was on what criteria are the awards judged.
A good question, which requires some explanation. One of the greatest facets of the profession is that no two grounds are the same. Each playing surface has its own peculiarities and ,of course, the weather can be so variable, so much so that Groundsmen, working only a few miles apart, can be undertaking very different jobs to prepare their respective surfaces.
The Awards marking was based on a series of questions, which are outlined below. In this year's 2004 finals, competition has been fierce and the fact that the judges visited 20 plus sites, from Belfast to Jersey showed that more clubs are willing to forward their Groundsmen for recognition. Again this year, competition has been very good, grounds often separated in the final marks by only a point or two.
1) How much usage does the playing surface receive during the season and is there joint sport on the outfield?
2) Is the job, full or part time occupation, how much time is spent (weekly) at the facility? What is the scope of duties, away from preparing the cricket ground?
3) How much funding is made available for materials, machinery and renovation works, and how does the Groundsman acquire this funding?
4) What range of machinery is available and how does the Groundsman's knowledge help to best utilise this equipment?
5) What relationship does the Groundsman enjoy with his employees?
6) What is the general condition of the site, workshops and sheds?
7) What experience, both work based and educational, has the Groundsman received?
8) What additional resources in terms of staff, materials and machinery is the Groundsman able to obtain?
9) What awareness has the Groundsman on the choice of products, machinery and materials that are available in the market place and what materials are used and stored on site?
10) Is the Groundsman up to date with H&S legislation, are they qualified for chemical application?
The Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards will run again this year, 2005, and entries are being promoted now, via the websites at www.pitchcare.com and www.cricketworld.com. It is expected that the Awards will grow from strength to strength, year on year, further raising the profile of Cricket Groundsmen but also increasing the quality of the playing surface and therefore the sport at all levels.
|Winners and Final Judging List for the 2004 Awards|
1st Chris Westbrook- Hursley Park CC
2nd Michael Carruthers- Bromley CC
3rd Dave Fouracre- Exmouth CC
Community Award - Ireland
William Radcliff and Noël McCraey - Saintfield CC Belfast Ireland
Graham Newell- Elmswell CC
Dineash Odedera- Bharat Sports CC
Nigel Salmon- Woodall Spa CC
Paul Emmanuel- Ripley CC
Neil Lambourne- Aston Rowant CC
Gerry Candy- Burridge CC
Gareth Jenkins- Abergavenny CC
1st Keith Exton- Oakham School
2nd Mike Kettle- Repton School
3rd Matt Pullen- Whitgift School
|Commended:- Owen de Gruchy- Victoria College|
1st Ian le Marquand- FB Playing Fields States of Jersey LA
2nd Ian Vautier- Granville Sports Ground States of Jersey LA
3rd Wayne Lumbard- Shrewsbury and Atcham LA
Cricket Judging Remarks
Keith Exton Oakham School
|The turf facilities at this school are exceptional, 5 squares, 9 rugby, 5 football 4 hockey, 2 lacrosse and many other small sided games areas. The presentation of these facilities is excellent. Keith's technical and practical skills are very good. Has overseen many projects that have saved the school many thousands of pounds. The amount of work achieved with such a small staff is staggering. Looking after 48 acres of sports fields. The school caters for 1500 pupils. Keith is very proactive in managing budgets and resources.|
Mike Kettle Repton School
Mike was a former professional cricketer, but now manages all the cricket and sporting facilities at Repton school. The quality and presentation of the cricket facilities is very good, especially having limited resources.( money and staff). Mike oversees work on 5 cricket squares, 8 football and 2 rugby pitches. Providing facilities for 750 pupils
The school has gained a fine reputation for cricket with Derby County sides playing and wanting to use the facility.
Matt Pullen Whitgift School
|Matt is responsible for maintaining the cricket facilities at Whitgift school, the main square is very well presented and provides well over 70 games per year. The school has very good equipment and is well managed.|
Saintfield CC Belfast Ireland (Special Community Award)
Thank You To The Sponsors of the 2004 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards
Cricket World and Pitchcare.com would like to thank all our sponsors for supporting these awards. These awards have been designed to raise the profile of the Groundsman and are also in recognition of their hard work and dedication on behalf of their clubs.
|John Deere||www.johndeere.co.uk||01949 860491|
|Lloyds of Letchworth||www.lloydsandco.com||01462 683031|
|Ransomes||www.ransomesjacobsen.com||+44 (0) 1473 270000|
Sisis Equipment (Macclesfield)
|Synergy Products||www.synergyproducts.ltd.uk||01380 828337|
|C.H. Binder||www.binderloams.co.uk||01277 890246|
|Goundreyfirstname.lastname@example.org||0870 242 1090|
|Flicx UK||www.flicx.com||07900 883630|