3 2005 Cricket Groundsman of the Year Awards

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.


  • Club
  • School/College
  • 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

Local Authorities

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

Cricket Clubs

1st Gordon Gill - Bath CC
2nd Paul Tatton - Haydock CC
3rd Andy Clarke - Shenley CC
4th Andy Gilder - Bishop Stortford Sports Trust CC

Community Award

1st Roy Tackle - Brompton Ralph CC
2nd Jerry Dovey - Letchworth CC
3rd Neil Lambourne - Aston Rowant CC

Judging Criteria

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?

Judging Remarks

Schools and Colleges


1st Keith Exton

Head Groundsman - Oakham School

Top class cricket squares, Keith takes personal pride in all his facilities, often working additional hours to meet the needs of the school and the fixtures.Very resourceful, makes good use of staff and materials, keen to take on new projects. Excellent knowledge of machinery and products. Keith negotiates and manages all budgets. Has recently employed a full time mechanic who has already reduced machinery and maintenance costs. He also bulk buys products to save money, which he then sells on to other local clubs and grounds, thus increasing their buying power.


2nd George Alexander

Head Groundsman - Tonbridge School

Excellent presentation of facilities. Dedicated with strong emphasis on detail. Has sound knowledge of the industry and is willing to try new techniques and practices to improve surface playability. Makes good use of resources and maintains equipment very well.Keeps records of work practices and manages all budgets at the school.


3rd Matt Pullen

Head Groundsman - Whitgift School

Very keen hands on Groundsman. Technically very sound and likes to try out new maintenance techniques and practices. Responsible for all cricket facilities at the school. Matt works closely with the Head Groundsman to secure necessary budgets for the cricket facilities.


Commended 4th Ian Smith

St Albans School Pavillion

Very good knowledge of machinery and products, Ian and his five staff are kept very busy maintaining 8 squares. His site not only provides facilities for the school but also for local community teams. All of his squares are identical, they were all constructed to the same specification in 2002.

Local Authorities


1st Nigel Nerac

States of Jersey

Very keen and knowledgeable, came through the States of Jersey apprenticeship scheme. Very committed to providing the best playing surfaces with the resources he has at hand. Materials in Jersey are not always readily available, therefore Nigel often has to work with limited resources. Has developed a good working ethos at the ground and manages his staff well. Liaises well with his line manager Steve Landick to secure machinery and products for the site.


2nd Simon Lawrence

Castle Park CC

Simon works full time for Elmy Landscapes, who have been awarded the contract to maintain the cricket facilities at Castle Park. Simon has worked at the ground for many years and dedicates his time and experience to produce very good wickets. Has a good technical knowledge of the ground and is able to maximise the limited resources he has available.


3rd Ian Vautier

Grainville Playing Fields Ian, like many of the Jersey States Groundstaff, has dedicated and committed himself to providing the best playing surfaces with the resources he has available. Ian has worked on the same site for 21 year and still finds it a challenge to produce high quality pitch facilities.

Commended 4th Ian Le Marquand

States of Jersey

Ian tends the FB playing fields on the States of Jersey. The site provides football, hockey and cricket pitches and one stadium athletic track. His enthusiasm and dedication shines out when you talk to him. And this can be seen in the quality of the facilities he manages.

Cricket Clubs


1st Gordon Gill

Bath CC

Gordon is a stickler for tidiness and presents his facility very well. Makes good use of machinery and resources, also an ECB pitch advisor and also works at other cricket grounds. Has a very good in depth knowledge of the sport, having been involved in cricket pitch maintenance for well over 25 years.


2nd Paul Tatton

Haydock CC

Paul is an ex professional cricketer, also coaches cricket but for the last 15 years has been involved in preparing and maintaining cricket squares. He is also an ECB cricket advisor. His knowledge and attention to detail is excellent.


3rd Andy Clarke

Shenley CC

Andy produces excellent facilities at a privately owned centre, providing match day wickets for corporate customers. Also an ECB cricket advisor. Makes good use of limited resources, very much his own man, no staff to manage, responsible for all activities on the site.


Commended 4th Andy Gilder

Bishop Stortford Sports Trust CC

Andy is a very competent Groundsman who has improved the quality of Bishop Stortford cricket facilities in the short time he has been there. Technically very sound and is always willing to share information and help other groundsmen.

Community Award


1st Roy Tackle

Brompton Ralph CC

Roy deserves a special commendation for services to cricket. He has actively run the club since 1966 non stop, having played an important part in the beginning in securing and developing the land. Roy was responsible for managing and overseeing all the works, which included the building of both squares, outfield and club house. He has one more project to oversee, the development of a brand new club house, for which plans have already been submitted for consultation. Roy has held every position at the club - player, coach, secretary and Groundsman, and is still active in running the club. It has been his life's work, in addition to holding down a full time job with the local Highways Department.


2nd Jerry Dovey

Letchworth CC

Jerry has been instrumental in raising funds to create a satellite ground, taking the opportunity to link in with a commercial development, that has seen the refurbishment of an old cricket ground and club house. He has fulfilled a vital role as project manager for the ground.


3rd Neil Lambourne

Aston Rowant CC

Neil is the Head Groundsman, taking over from his late father, Peter, five years ago. Neil is on a mission to continue the good work his father started some 29 years ago, which is to continually improve the standard of the facilities at the club.

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 alan.ford@munrogoundey.co.uk 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

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07973 394037

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