With the Covid-19 crisis pushing back the potential start of the season, David Bates, MD of cricket pitch specialist total-play, looks at what maintenance clubs should be doing to ensure their ground is ready as soon as restrictions are lifted.
We're living through unprecedented times but, with socially distanced practice nets activity now sanctioned, there's a glimmer of hope that recreational cricket could be played before the season is out.
So, what's the best way to ensure your square is in peak condition for a late-season start?
In short, keep doing what you would normally do during a season for pitches which aren't in play - and the same goes for the outfield.
Keep mowing heights and standard maintenance practises the same, even though no games are taking place. Don't let the grass grow and become unmanageable as you risk the grass plant 'getting used' to growing at a certain height - this can cause the ryegrass plant to become very 'crowny' and the thickening out of annual meadow grass which, in turn, creates even more organic matter.
This means cutting is more important than ever - regularly verti-cut the square and brush to remove dead matter. The table should be kept at the annual maintenance height or half inch or 12mm on the table, with the outfield cut to the optimum height for your setting; still striping it up and keeping on top of the heights as if it were in play.
Many clubs will be feeling the pinch financially and there may be a need to cut costs, but I would urge clubs to still try and invest in the playing surface. Even though the square may look better than ever before, it is still alive and growing and needs the normal annual maintenance operations to be completed with a focus on the table in controlling the build-up of organic matter.
By keeping on top of this you stand the best chance of your ground being ready to get out and play cricket as soon as the government gives the go-ahead.
During his residency at Northants CCC, David Bates gained a reputation for preparing some of the finest pitches in the country. Having worked as a pitch advisor and trainer for the IoG, David now heads up total-play Ltd where he has developed class-leading non-turf cricket pitch and pitch cover solutions
For more information, visit www.total-play.co.uk or call 01604 864 575