June Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale

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By the end of May we finally experienced some consistent warmer weather, which is more conducive to preparing cricket wickets. The bounce and pace of the wickets should be improving now that soil profiles are drying out. Most Groundsmen are nearly half way through their season, looking to see how well their facilities are playing and standing up to wear and tear. Irrigation will be a major consideration with evapotranspiration (ET), the combined water loss from both the plant and soil surfaces, now rising due to the warmer weather. Watering will be essential for wicket repairs and preparation. When irrigating, ensure the water is uniformly applied to prevent any dry patches forming.

Pitch maintenance and preparation of wickets are ongoing, with June being one of the busiest months of the cricketing calendar due to to long daylight hours.

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.

June Maintenance Tasks for Cricket

Natural Grass

Task Frequency Reason
Aeration When conditions allow Sarrel roll the square to keep the surface free draining. It will be essential to use the sarrel roller 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) 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.

In June you would be looking to use a 12/0/9, or similar compound fertiliser blend, or apply a slow release fertiliser to see you through to July. The choice of material and how well it works will be dependant on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and soil temperature being the catalyst for growth. The performance of slow release fertilisers can be influenced by the weather, often producing a flush of growth when you least expect it. Some grounds managers may use straight compound granular or liquid fertilisers which activate when in contact with moist soil conditions, effectively stimulating grass growth within days.

Care should be taken when fertilising the square, initiating green lush growth on a wicket you are about to prepare is the last thing you want to achieve, as it will have an affect on the performance of the wicket.

Harrowing / raking (outfield) When conditions allow Harrowing/raking helps restore levels and keep surfaces open.
Inspect Cricket structures As required worfield-covers.jpg
Irrigation As required aprilwateringstripbyhand.jpg.
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.
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 worfield-mowing-sq.jpg

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.

Outfield worfield-ransomes.jpg

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 worms are present. Ph level, organic matter and your cultural practices on the square need to be assessed.
Rolling Daily/ Weekly

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Rolling of the entire square should be carried out on three separate occasions during June, evenly spaced out between one another, with a roller weight between 1000-2500 kg over the entire length of the square. Make 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 will still be your aim throughout the season. 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. proctor test (click on link to see details of carrying out a proctor test).

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.

Soil tests Ideally once or twice a year, or as required. Soil sampling is an important part of groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:
  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.
  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.
  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.
  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

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 by 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.

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Wicket repairs After matches april-seededfilledfootholes.jpg
Artificial wicket and net Facilities
Artificial Grass Systems Surface treatments aprilnets-.jpg

Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's 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.