October Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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Many ground staff are busy renovating their cricket squares, However ground staff have experienced very dry conditions during September, with many not being able to aerate their cricket squares due to the hard ground conditions. In fact many cricket squares are probably harder now than they were in August. Trying to aerate in these conditions can do more harm than good, firstly it will be difficult to achieve the penetration you require, as well as running the risk of disrupting surface levels (Instead of getting a neat hole the surface tends to break up and often tines will break on your aerating machine).wellington-cricket-club-ren.jpg

October is usually a good month to carry out any additional ground works particularly drainage, especially when using heavy pipe laying machinery. Ground conditions are able to sustain the weight and action of these machine's without causing much damage to the turf surfaces.

Most of the tasks detailed below 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 at the bottom of the diary.

October Maintenance Tasks for Cricket

Natural Grass

Task

Frequency

Reason

Autumn Renovation

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Preferably as soon as conditions allow after the end of the playing season

These works will involve a number of operations that are carried out on the whole cricket square.

It may be necessary to soak the pitches/wickets prior to undertaking any work. This will make the ground more pliable.

The following activities are generally implemented during the autumn renovations and usually carried out in the following order:-

  1. Mowing the sward, preparing surfaces for renovation.

  2. Scarification, removal of unwanted debris (collect arisings).

  3. Aeration, decompaction of soil profile, improving the air and gas exchange in soil.

  4. Top dressing, restores levels and improves surface drainage.

  5. Overseeding, restores the correct grass populations.

  6. Fertilising, provides nutrients for grass growth.

  7. Drag matting / Brushing, to incorporate dressings and to help the grass stand back up.

  8. Watering/Irrigation.

Further information on renovation techniques and equipment can be seen on the following link. Renovation.

Germination sheets
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As required

Germination sheets will aid seed germination and seedling establishment. Cover renovated square, but check daily for disease.

Coversedgebaston-test-covers.jpg Not required

All covers and Portable covers to be inspected for damage / wear and tear. Organise appropriate repairs or replacement.

Covers and sheets can be stored away after the playing season is finished.

Diseases (square and outfield)

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Daily/Weekly

Turf disease can become quite prevalent in October when soil moisture levels increase, coupled with the presence of early morning dews. The combination of moist soils and surface moisture on the leaf blade can increase the susceptibility of disease attack.

Regular brushing in the mornings to remove the dew off the playing surfaces will reduce the likelihood of disease outbreak. Many turf grass diseases can be active at this time of the year. Fairy rings, and red thread are the most commonly seen.

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, once it is safe to get back on the square. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most facility managers will be looking to apply their autumn fertilisers in association with their end of season renovations.

A list of available fertilisers can be seen on the following link: Autumn Fertilsers

Applying fertilisers when ground conditions are dry and arid is not viable, as the plant cannot make use of the nutrients. Dry soils do not allow effective transport of nutrients into the grass plant. Soils have to be in a wet state to enable efficient transfer of nutrients to the plant.

Having an appropriate irrigation system will allow you the opportunity to fertilise as and when required. Many Groundsmen are now moving towards the little and often approach, applying smaller doses of fertiliser to cater for the plants requirements at that particular time.

Fencing off the cricket square At the end of the playing season Many Groundsmen fence off the cricket square at the end of the season to protect the square from pests, (Soccer players, rabbits, deer, foxes), vehicles and vandals.

Harrowing/raking (outfield)

When conditions allow

Harrowing/raking helps restore levels and keep surfaces open.

Inspect Cricket structuresworfield-covers.jpg

As required

Check and repair fences, scoreboards, covers and sightscreens. All structures can be stored away for the winter after use.

Irrigation

As required

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It is essential to have water available for irrigation purposes. Irrigation is required for pitch renovations and repairs. Irrigate uniformly and ensure the right amount is applied. It's important to ensure that the water gets down deep into the root-zone to a minimum of 150mm to encourage deep rooting. Check with a probe. Allow to dry out and repeat irrigation process. Allowing surfaces to remain dry can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. Further information about irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link Irrigation.

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.

Materials

As required.

Keep a good supply of materials at hand for repairs and maintenance.

Mowing of the outfieldworfield-mowing-sq.jpg

As required

Mowing of the outfield should be undertaken on a regular basis to maintain height of cut. The outfield should now be maintained at between 25-35mm.

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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, aeration and feeding programmes to maintain a healthy sward.

Outfield renovations can be completed at the end of the cricket season, however the amount of work carried out may be determined by whether the outfield is being used for other sports (football/rugby).

Similar operations can be carried out on the outfield, scarification, aeration, top dressing and fertilising.

Pest control

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As required

Worm activity can be quite prevalent in October, keep an eye the square and treat accordingly. 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.

Carbendazim is now the only active ingredient available for controlling worms.

Rigby Taylor's Mascot Systemic (Maff 08776.contains 500g per litre carbendazim). 1 litre will cover 2,500m2.

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

Soil sampling is an important part of grounds maintenance. 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.

Artificial wicket and net Facilities

Artificial Grass Systems

Surface treatments

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Sand filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer's recommendations for sand levels and pile heights.

Net facilities

post -season

Repair damaged structures and netting, order new if required. Strim and mow around structures.

All net and practice structures can be repaired and stored away for the winter.