Dennis and SISIS recently hosted their first ever Cricket Pitch Renovation Day which has been hailed a huge success.
Over the past few years Dennis and SISIS have held pre-season indoor seminars for anyone responsible for the maintenance of a cricket pitch. The seminars, which have taken place at various venues across the country, have brought together over 1100 cricket groundsmen from grass roots, local and county clubs, international test venues, local authorities and schools and colleges.
Building on the success of these seminars, Dennis and SISIS working in conjunction with Chris Wood (ECB Pitch Consultant) and Ian Smith (St Albans School Turf Consultant) decided to introduce a Cricket Pitch Renovation Day, which combines a mixture of thought-provoking indoor presentations with outside practical demonstrations. This exciting new chapter in the "For the Groundsmen by the Groundsmen" series began at St Albans School Woollam Trust, where over 160 delegates made their way to see the new concept.
The event, which was supported by Boughton Loam, CricketWorld.com, Durrant Cricket, Limagrain UK, RT Machinery, Ecosol Turfcare, Poweroll and Headland Amenity was started by a warm welcome from Robert Jack (Dennis and SISIS) and Mark Illott (St Albans School Cricket Professional and former Essex and England Cricketer). The introduction provided a fascinating insight into the school's prestigious sporting history and the standards that they adhere to which ensures that the school boasts some of the finest sporting facilities in the UK.
Renowned Turf Consultant Alex Vickers, then took to the stage to deliver a presentation entitled Principles of decision making for autumn renovations & profile reading. Alex demonstrated his vast amount of knowledge as he proceeded to offer valuable tips and advice through a series of visual slides.
Following a refreshment break, Rob Kendle from ATB Sports Solutions offered his expertise on End of season renovations before an innovative new feature took place called Soil Core Clinic. Prior to the seminar, attendees were encouraged to bring with them core samples from their respective facilities. The samples were projected onto the huge screen and examined in detail by Sussex County Cricket Club's Head Groundsman Andy Mackay and Keith Exton from Perfect Pitches (UK) Ltd. It was particularly useful for visitors who may have had any soil profiles that were causing problems or concerns, as Keith and Andy discussed a number of ways in how it could be improved.
A complimentary lunch signalled the half-way point, before delegates made their way outside for the outdoor demonstrations. Divided into three groups, visitors spent 40 minutes at three different cricket squares where specific renovation work was being carried out.
Square 1 saw Andy Clarke (IOG Regional Pitch Advisor) and Ian Smith (St Albans School Turf Consultant) demonstrating a number of methods that would be valuable for cricket groundsman working on a tight budget. Elsewhere, Rob Kendle showcased a number of scarification techniques on Square 2 while Keith Exton and Darren Matthews (Ecosol Turfcare) focused on aeration on Square 3.
Commenting on the day, Eric Woodmason - a Contractor and Clubs and Programmes Officer for Gloucestershire Cricket Board said: "As a contractor doing autumn renovations I have learned a lot today. From the first speaker talking about cores and looking at the square, and then moving outside and seeing all of the machinery and going into great detail about all the renovation work - it's just been fantastic. There are things that I've heard and seen today that will ultimately improve the quality of my work and improve the quality of the squares."
Likewise, Lee Marshallsay, Grounds Manager at Charterhouse School said: "It's been very beneficial for my team and I like the fact that it is aimed at everyone - it's not just for those in the top positions. To get everyone together from grass roots upwards works really well. I think the indoor seminars and the outdoor practical demonstrations have provided a good mix. You get to see the machines in action and many people here wouldn't have seen that before so for them to have more of an idea of what equipment is out there is ideal."
Angus Lindsay, Group Head of Assets and Fleet for idverde UK, was also present on the day and believes that events like these can only benefit the groundscare industry. "Days like these for what we do are absolutely brilliant. Three of us came today and it's been very informative. I have a new starter from the company with me today who knows very little about this but he has come out absolutely enthused by it.
"I think we've got the best groundsmen and greenkeepers in the world in the UK and that is why a lot of them go abroad because they can make a huge difference wherever they go. However, if we don't look after the home pitches - whether it be through lack of budget or lack of knowledge then we'll encounter problems. The more days like these and the more people get to see what can be done - the better."