2005 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards
(Pitchcare.com and Cricket World)
By Laurence Gale MSc
Now into the third year of the awards both Cricket World and Pitchcare have been delighted with the response, and the standard of the nominations. This year the number of categories has been increased from three to four. Following our experiences of previous years it was decided to add a Community Award to the list, which recognises the contribution of Groundsmen in the wider context of club and community matters. The winners of each category will be treated to a VIP day out at Lords during the summer.
- Local Authority
- Community Award
As one of the judges, I was very impressed by the quality of the candidates and the commitment they all have clearly shown in providing such excellent facilities with the resources available.
I enjoyed meeting so many dedicated Groundsmen, they have each played an important part in promoting the game of cricket at their particular level. Between them they have a wealth of experience and knowledge, many of them have spent years maintaining the same facility, forever trying to produce the perfect wicket.
What was also pleasing was that they all have a common aim to produce safe and consistent wickets for all age groups, but principally to encourage youngsters to take up the game to progress and develop into the next generation of Freddie Flintoffs.
Of all the natural grass sports surfaces to manage, cricket is probably the most demanding. Each site has its own peculiarities and challenges, and climatic conditions which can play havoc with pitch preparations. This year's poor spring weather has been a tester for them, the recent cold weather conditions have delayed their rolling programmes and limited the early spring growth.
Many of the Groundsmen judged thought they were at least three weeks behind schedule, however they were undeterred and pretty confident they would soon catch up. There was an interesting mix of candidates, ranging from full time professionals through to volunteers who regularly give up to 25 hours plus a week to the club free of charge. Also, on my travels, it was pleasing to meet up with three women who are actively involved in maintaining cricket facilities. None were nominees but one was in the position of Deputy Head Groundsman at Wellington College, Jackie Evans, who had followed in her father's footsteps.
Many of the Groundsmen are involved in ongoing projects to improve the facilities at their club, school or college; some being funded via ECB programmes and include improved pitch and drainage schemes, new net facilities or club house improvements. The judging has been as hard as it could be, and all the nominees should be praised for their efforts.
Apart from the new Community Award, the main judging criteria is based around the Groundsman's knowledge, experience and skill levels. A visual inspection of the square and outfield is performed, but this is not rated high in the markings. Marks are awarded for the amount of games played, the work undertaken, the cleanliness of the machinery and equipment sheds, the budgetary awareness the Groundsman has and the personal knowledge of new machinery and products available.
Also we look for any additional qualities they offer, particularly making good use of the resources they currently have as well as what vision and strategies they have in place for the future of their facility. Cricket as a sport is in the ascendancy, the recent Ashes tests raised the profile of the game at all levels. I recently attended Durham CCC's AGM and was astounded to see over 70 clubs represented, and that there was a general interest and commitment to improve playing facilities at their grounds to accommodate an ever increasing junior membership.
This was backed up when interviewing the Groundsmen, they were having to increase the number of pitches to accommodate these additional youth game fixtures.
Personally, I would like also to pay tribute to the dedication, commitment and enthusiasm shown by all the Groundsmen I met during this year's judging. There are some wonderful characters in the sport who give up a lot of time, often beyond the call of duty, to ensure their facilities provide the best standard of play possible.
The whole concept of the competition is to raise the profile of Groundsmen and to make people aware of the amount of work, time and dedication it takes to prepare and maintain cricket pitch surfaces. With many clubs running several teams, it is not surprising to find Groundsmen working well over 30 hours a week, often voluntary, to provide and ensure the pitches are ready for play. I believe clubs should recognise their commitment by ensuring they have appropriate resources and equipment to help them achieve their goals of producing safe and consistent pitches.
Let's hope even more Groundsmen / women are nominated for the 2006 competition, so that all their hard work and dedication can be recognised and rewarded.
Winners and Final Judging List for the 2005 Awards:-
Schools and Colleges
1st Keith Exton - Oakham School
2nd George Alexander - Tonbridge School
3rd Matt Pullen - Whitgift School
4th Ian Smith - St Albans School Pavillion
1st Nigel Nerac - States of Jersey
2nd Simon Lawrence - Castle Park CC
3rd Ian Vautier - Grainville Playing Fields
4th Ian Le Marquand - States of Jersey
1st Gordon Gill - Bath CC
2nd Paul Tatton - Haydock CC
3rd Andy Clarke - Shenley CC
4th Andy Gilder - Bishop Stortford Sports Trust CC
1st Roy Tackle - Brompton Ralph CC
2nd Jerry Dovey - Letchworth CC
3rd Neil Lambourne - Aston Rowant CC
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?
Schools and Colleges
Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards 2006 The Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards will run again this year, 2006, and entries are being promoted now, via the 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.
Cricket World, Cotton Farm, Unit 3-4,
Cringle Lane, Stoke Rochford, Lincolnshire,
NG33 5EF (with you nomination) or email
Thank You To The Sponsors of the 2005 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 (01473) 270000
Sisis Equipment (Macclesfield) www.sisis.com (01625) 503030
Groundsman Industries www.groundsmansindustries.com
Synergy Products www.synergyproducts.ltd.uk (01380) 828337
C.H. Binder www.binderloams.co.uk (01277) 890246
Goundrey's firstname.lastname@example.org 0870 242 1090
Flicx UK www.flicx.com 07900 883630
Tildenet www.tildenet.co.uk 0117 966 9684
JMS Cricket www.jmscricket.com (01535) 604777
Dennis www.dennisuk.com (01332) 824777