April Cricket Diary
By Laurence Gale
Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account.
If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.
April Maintenance Tasks for Cricket
|Aeration||When conditions allow||Sarrel roll the square to keep the surface free draining , it will be essential to use the sarrel roll after any rolling works.|
|Brushing / Sweeping (Square)||Daily / Weekly||Prior to mowing, the surface should be thoroughly brushed every time. Continue to brush square daily to remove moisture from the grass surface, stopping the spread of disease and facilitating an improved quality of cut on the dry grass.|
|Diseases including Moss & Algae (Square and outfield)||Daily / Weekly||
Keep an eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas.
Any moss treatments should now be completed.
|Drainage||Weekly||Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working.|
|Fertiliser programme||If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured)||
A spring / summer fertiliser should now be applied to encourage top growth, use at the manufacturer's recommended rates. Rye grasses are more wear tolerant when fed correctly.
Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.
|Frost and snow||As required||April snow is not uncommon, so keep people and equipment off playing surfaces if any frost or snow.|
|Harrowing / raking (outfield)||When conditions allow||Harrowing / raking helps restore levels and keep surfaces open.|
|Inspect Cricket structures||As required||Check and repair fences, scoreboards, covers and sightscreens. Your pitch covers, are they ready for action? Any repairs needed? Remember, covers are used regularly in the UK climate for protecting the pitch under preparation from both rain and sun.|
|Litter / debris||Daily / Weekly||Inspect and remove debris from playing surface - litter, twigs and leaves.|
|Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance)||Daily / Weekly||Ongoing inspection and cleaning of machinery after use. Machinery should have been serviced and repaired for new mowing season.|
|Marking out||As required.||Marking out the crease should be done with care, using frames or string lines to help achieve clear, straight lines.|
|Materials||As required.||Keep a good supply of materials at hand for repairs and maintenance.|
|Mowing, square & outfield||As required||
Mowing of the square and outfield should be undertaken on a regular basis to maintain heights of cut. The square should be maintained at between 6-14mm and the outfield between 12-25mm.
Continue to verticut, training the grass to grow vertically. If you don't have a verticut option then use a drag brush to help stand the grass up prior to mowing. If using verticutting units be careful not to mark/scar the soil surface, as these scars will be hard to remove as the square dries out.
Remember not to neglect the outfield; it too has a major effect on a game if unattended. The outfield should be treated the same as any other natural grass pitch, carrying out regular mowing and aeration and feeding programmes to maintain a healthy sward.
After matches repair any divots and scars that have resulted from play, ensure you have enough supplies of soil material and seed for repairs.
|Pest control||As required||Worm treatments can be carried out if needed, but please remember to ask yourself why do you have worms, Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.|
|Rolling||Daily / Weekly||
Rolling of the entire square should be carried out on three separate occasions during April, evenly spaced out between one another. with a roller weight between 1000-2500 kg over the entire length of the square. with the first pass across the line of play, returning along the same path until the whole square is rolled.
Ideal rolling conditions would suggest the soil be in a state of plasticity-or "plasticine". Consolidation is your aim and the quality of pre season rolling will show when you produce your early season pitches. The pitch is required to be consolidated throughout to a depth of no less than 100mm.
Proctor testing is used to evaluate the compaction characteristics of the soil. This test determines the maximum density the soil can be compacted to, and at what moisture content the soil is most prone to compaction. Proctor testing is useful in determining how compacted a soil is in the field.
|Seed bare & worn areas on Cricket square||When conditions allow||
Seeding of the ends where the grass is weak, sparse or bare can be continued and the rise in temperature will help germination. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.
Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.
|Wicket Preparation||As required||
Preparation of the pitch should start ten days prior to a game. Mark out your cutting area with string, nails, paint or markers to obtain a straight cutting line. Your first cut should be as accurate as possible because it becomes very difficult to correct inconsistencies when the pitch is cut more prominently.
Start by hand scarifying to stand the grass up, this tool will not mark the soil surface, cut the pitch once and repeat the process again. Dependant on weather you may need to water. Ensure you irrigate to get a good depth of watering, you may need to cover to prevent evaporation. Once surface water has gone you can then begin to roll. Roll pitch until the surface is visibly dry. Continue to roll each day in the run up to the match, checking the consolidation by bouncing a cricket ball on the soil surface or testing the resistance of inserting a metal rod into the surface. The wicket can be left uncovered unless you have weather that is too wet, windy or sunny. During these conditions the wicket should be covered.
|Wicket repairs||After matches|
|Artificial wicket and net Facilities|
|Artificial Grass Systems||Surface treatments||
Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturers recommendations for sand levels and pile heights.
|Net facilities||Pre -season||Repair damaged structures and netting, order new if required. Strim and mow around structures.|