This has been an extremely difficult season for cricket groundsmen across the whole of the country; starting with the drought restrictions early doors, which soon ended mid-summer with incessant rainfall. I can particularly remember a run of seven wet Fridays on the trot here in leafy Warwickshire.
Income streams at cricket clubs have been severely interrupted, and at many clubs I hear of cost-cutting measures, particularly when it comes to essential ground maintenance. Some clubs tell me that they have only used 75% of their pitches on the square and do not plan to renovate the unused ones - how wrong can they be!!
Pitches that have not been prepared for matches will not have been cut short or thinned out by verticutting/scarification, and there will be a significant build-up of thatch and fibre. In fact, the unused pitches will need more attention than usual, probably with an extra pass of the heavy-duty scarifier in the Autumn period.
DO NOT SKIMP ON THE VIGOROUS SCARIFICATION!!!
I feel that an application of Autumn/Winter fertiliser cannot be avoided (probably 2 x 20kgs bags for an average 10 pitch square), and the same applies for an overseeding programme with dwarf perennial ryegrass (probably 2 x 20kgs bags for a 10 pitch square).
Bare pitch ends must be re-seeded with the DPR mixture and topdressed with a proprietary cricket loam.
Where clubs can save money is on the topdressing of their square - rather than 100% coverage, concentrate on the pitch ends only, but only for one year or else there is the risk of saddles. On your typical 10 pitch square this equates to around 60 x 25kgs bags of proprietary loam - a cost saving of approximatelty £275/£300.
The message is clear - skimp at your own peril - because neglect in the Autumn renovation programme will mean inferior pitches the following season in many cases.
ECB Pitch Advisor
Warwickshire Cricket Board