February Cricket Diary

By Laurence Gale Msc

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As with most turf grass facilities, February sees the beginning of a number of activities being started to prepare the sward/grass surfaces for the coming playing season. The appearance of the sward, particularly on the outfields, will often at this time of the year look uneven and discoloured due to the fact that the outfield may not have received any maintenance (cutting, spiking or fertilising) during the winter period.

Depending on the ground conditions you should try and carry out your first cut before the grass gets too long. You may need to raise the height of cut, so that you are just topping it off, not trying to remove too much grass in one go. Increase the cutting frequency gradually, up to 1-2 times per week (outfield & square), subject to ground and weather conditions.

Keep an eye on the weather, you want to begin your square rolling programme early. If rolling hasn't started, then this should be initiated as soon as is possible. Roll in as many different directions as possible, but always finish in the direction of play, timing of this operation is vitally important. Start with your lightest mower, cutting the square. If you are using the weight of the mower to consolidate the ground then disengage the blades, reducing friction and unnecessary wear on the machine.

Gradually build up the rolling weight by moving onto the next size of cylinder mower and adding weights to the grass box. This gradual build up may be over a few weeks until the roller comes out of the shed to really get consolidation right for the season. Ideal rolling conditions would suggest the soil be in a state of plasticity-or "plasticine" like. 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. This can only be achieved with gradual build up of roller weight.

To help kick start the grass into growing you can begin to apply some low Nitrogen based fertilisers. Ideally get your soils sampled for nutrients, organic matter content and soil pH. This information will help decide on the appropriate course of action with regard to applying the correct NPK balance for your site.

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.

February Maintenance Tasks for Cricket

Natural Grass





As required

The outfield can be aerated using solid or slit tines when conditions allow.

Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, (varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan).



Not required

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

The covers will be required for use during pre season preparations, make sure they are ready for use.

Diseases (square and outfield)



Turf disease can become quite prevalent 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.

Systemic curative and protective fungicides can be used to control diseases, there are a wide range of products on the market that have the active ingredients chlorothalonil and iprodione. These fungicides are usually applied in liquid form using water as a carrier. Try:

  • Daconil Turf by Scotts

  • Fusonil Turf by Rigby Taylor

  • Rovral Green by Bayer




Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working. Winter months are a good time for carrying out ditch clearing operations. Blocked ditches may affect the performance of playing field drainage systems.

Fencing off the cricket square

During winter months

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

With increased activity now being seen on grounds it is time to take down and store away any protective fences.


As required

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. Only apply what your soil requires.

However, the application of a low nitrogen,higher potash feed (NPK 6:5:10 +6% Fe) will help green up the grass and at the same time help control any moss that has accumulated in the sward during the winter months.

rowing/raking (outfield)

When conditions allow

Harrowing/raking helps restore levels and keep surfaces open.


As required

Check all irrigation equipment, taps, hoses and sprinkler heads.

Automated systems should be serviced and checked over for the forth coming season. Water is now an expensive resource. Do not waste it.

Inspect cricket structures


As required

Check and repair fences, scoreboards, covers and sightscreens prior to use.

February still allows you some time to finish off any structural repairs or painting jobs at the ground.



Wind blown debris needs to be cleared from playing surfaces. Inspect and remove debris from the playing surface - litter, twigs and leaves.

Machinery (Repairs & Maintenance)


Ongoing inspection and cleaning of machinery after use. All machinery should now have been returned from any servicing in time for use.



As required

Keep a good supply of materials such as loam and seed at hand for repairs and maintenance.

Order materials for your spring remedial works, book early to avoid disappointment or delay.



As required

The mowing height on the square should be lowered to around 15-18mm by the end of February, subject to local weather conditions.

But remember not to remove more than 1/3 of total grass height in each cut. The less stress that is placed on the grass at this vital time, the better the results further on into the season.

The outfield height of cut should also be reduced to around 25mm by the end of the month, if not already shared with other sports.

The frequency of outfield cutting should be increased to once per week.


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 (incl. aeration and mowing).

Some cricket outfields are often maintained as winter pitches, the amount of work required to be carried out, may be determined by whether the outfield is being used for other sports (football/rugby).

Pest control


As required

Worm activity can be quite prevalent during the winter months especially during periods of mild weather. Keep an eye on 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.

Project Planning

On going

Remedial works, i.e. over seeding, scarifying etc will be starting at the back end of February, you may need to seek quotations for machinery and materials.

Leaving it late to order materials can delay your work schedule.

It is important to keep records and diaries of the activities carried out, and how well the facility has performed. The advent of the digital camera is a great tool for recording information.


Pre season

Pre season rolling - ensure it is carried out early, try to start mid February, with a very light roller (24" mower), gradually increase the weight until you are using your heaviest roller in late March.

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) 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 next season's feeding and maintenance programmes.

Artificial wicket and net Facilities

Artificial Grass Systems


Surface treatments

Keep surface clean, regular sweeping and brushing. Remove any algae and moss from surface.

Net facilities


post -season

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

You may require new nets, poles, guy ropes, etc, allow 2-4 weeks delivery.