Bradford Park Avenue
by David Markham
Groundsman Richard Robinson has been improving the state of the outfield at Bradford's premier cricket ground.
Richard is Groundsman at the former Yorkshire venue Park Avenue, which is now used a centre of excellence for the Leeds-Bradford universities.
His latest work has been designed to improve the drainage on the outfield by boring lots of three-inch holes in the ground.
He said: "We have 'hollow cored' the outfield. The machine we use takes three-inch cores out of the ground.
"So, we have taken out 100 pencil thin cores in every square metre to give the ground some air and improve the drainage. This exercise also gets rid of a small percentage of moss.
In the ideal world we would have then applied a top dressing of sand, but we couldn't do that because we have to keep within our budgets. We will probably do that next year.
After taking out the cores we dragged the machine back over the ground six or seven times. As a result of that the good soil goes back into the core holes while the rest - all the bad stuff - is thrown away. Dragging the soil around also improves the fibre of the soil.
We also spike the square as often as we can, but we haven't been able to do any work on the square in the last two weeks because the ground has been too wet."
Bradford Park Avenue has been a cricket ground for 120 years and, until 1985, Yorkshire played some three matches there every season.
It returned to first class cricket in 1992 when Yorkshire played one first class match there for four years before deciding to concentrate their matches on two venues, Headingley and Scarborough.
Park Avenue was also the headquarters of Yorkshire's highly acclaimed academy until they transferred it to Leeds two years ago.
Last year the universities centre of excellence was established there for coaching and matches and, in the coming season, Park Avenue will also be a centre of excellence for the Bradford-Leeds universities ladies team, which includes England players, Kathryn Leng and Laura Spragg.
Richard Robinson, who is one of the leading batsmen in the Bradford League, left Priestley Cup and Heavy Woollen Cup winners Baildon at the end of last season to be captain of his home town club, Keighley.
Besides his work at Park Avenue, he has also been employed to restore the square at one of the Bradford League's leading clubs, Undercliffe.