Following a highly successful Bowling Green maintenance seminar held at Uxbridge sports ground in April 2010, discussions subsequently took place between Dennis, Cricketworld.com and myself as to whether we could provide a similar day with cricket content to support local cricket groundsmen in the Middlesex and surrounding counties. Once the parties concerned had formally agreed to go ahead we quickly set about putting together a plan for the event, with myself taking on the task of approaching some of my highly respected colleagues within the industry to ascertain their interest in taking part. No one refused.
The timing of the event couldn't have been better with interest in cricket at a high following the recent Ashes victory in Australia.
I was convinced that such an event would be huge and it soon became apparent as to just how big it was going to be when the replies of those registering for the event started to come in. As number soared, applicants were coming from far and wide with one coming all the way from the Isle of Man and demand soon outstripped the maximum capacity for the venue. Unfortunately this meant we had a waiting list for the day. Victims of our own success?
After months in the planning, the day finally arrived and despite the usual traffic problems in around the Home Counties, most people made it in good time and there was a real buzz of anticipation in the room prior to the start.
Robert Jack, Dennis UK, kicked off by welcoming all attendees, and then Jim White from Cricketworld.com gave a very informative first presentation, which featured the potential of the website and offered funding advice to clubs. Angus Fraser then gave a very frank account of his times bowling at Uxbridge, his work with Mick Hunt, Head groundsman at Lords (who was in the crowd) and what he considered a good pitch to be. It was then over to myself as host groundsman and I focused upon my concerns for the industry before telling tales of my time in the role.
It is always important that at such events like this time is allowed for people to network. Attendees amongst themselves, with the guest speakers and with the trade, but no matter how much time you build into the programme it is never enough.
People were keen to talk with the representatives of Dennis and Sisis following the recently announced 'partnership' and the groundsmen were delighted with the news they heard.
A wide range of machinery was available for all to view during breaks.
Matt Gresty gave an insight into choosing grass seed and the history of the Limagrain Company, which warmed the audience for next guest speaker, Stuart Kerrison who gave an amusing account of life at Chelmsford and their many outgrounds. His passion, desire and fun came across to all, with stories of his working relationship with a certain coach, attempts to save match stumps at the end of games and many hilarious stories. Paul Taylor told how the Northants staff had turned around their County Headquarters by use of the drill and fill operation, before Rob Kendle and Rob Draper of A T Bone gave the final presentation with slides of a polo field construction and turning a bowling green at Northampton CCC into grass nets.
Chris Wood, ECB pitches inspector, was in the audience and announced a statement regarding Ongar and Kaloam dressings, which was of great interest to many worried groundsmen in the audience, before kindly agreeing to join the panel of presenters for the Q&A session. It was probably a good job that he did, as most questions were directed at him.
The event was wrapped up and people sent on their way around 4pm and the general consensus was that it had been a very successful event. The organisers were certainly very happy with how the day had gone..
In total there were around 100 people present. In addition to Angus Fraser, there was also Roger Moore, Jimmy White and Mike Atherton, making it a great day for star spotters.
I would like to extend my thanks to all who helped make the day what it became. The audience for their attention, the speakers for their dedication and enthusiasm, Cricketworld.com for their support and above all to Dennis Mowers for having the foresight to run with the dream.