Club cricket update (29/05/02)
By Paul Markham
Cricket matches are in full swing on our square at Bradford and Bingley now.
It is peak season and there are lots of matches going on at different levels. These include all the junior matches, under 13's, 15's and 17's and we have also let our local secondary school use the ground as well, not to mention the clubs first and second teams in the Bradford League. This means there are a number of pitches being used in succession and it is a juggling act finding the right pitch for the right match.
As the season progresses pitches already played on are coming out of use. This means that immediate aftercare is a priority. The pitch in question is flooded so it can become workable. I then scarify the pitch quite hard, to remove the dead and dying grasses and create as many small grooves in the loam surface as possible.
When I then apply the seed onto the pitch and into the grooves, it has the best possible chance to germinate. Once seeded I lightly top dress with 'Kaloam' to cover the seed and re-address the levels. The final job is to cover this prepared area with black germination sheets. While there's no play for a few days, the sheets retain a little extra warmth and moisture to help kick start the seed. Mind you, with the changeable weather at the moment it isn't taking long for the new seed to sprout.
With warm temperatures, sunshine and rain, grass is 'jumping' out of the ground and so the mowers are out nearly every day. The outfield needs cutting twice a week and I use two machines for this. One is a Ransomes Mastiff which has a 36" cylinder blade, it's a pedestrian machine and takes me about four hours to cut the outfield. The other machine is a Toro 216-D which is a ride-on machine with three floating units again with cylinder blades spanning six feet in width. When I use this machine the same operation can be completed in well under two hours. The ride-on is great for speed, but the pedestrian machine affords much better final presentation, which is high on my list of priorities.
I cut the square three times a week and for this I use a Saxon Baroness cylinder mower; I cut each individual pitch due to be used every day leading up to the game to keep it in trim and firm the surface.
It is important to note that I actually play on these pitches as well, so I get a lot of direct feedback from the other players as well as my own personal thoughts of the pitches performance. It is interesting to see it from both sides of the fence as it were, and I take most of the comments on board. The other comments that I disregard, are usually the more derogatory ones from my team mates, you have to grow thick skin to be a Groundsman!