0 Esholt Cricket Club

Esholt CC (20/06/02)

By David Markham

Ambitious Bradford League club Esholt are reaping the benefit of investing in new machinery and equipment.

Their neat ground is in a picturesque village where the ITV programme Emmerdale used to be filmed and the village pub was the original Woolpack. The village is in a rural setting and yet it is only four miles from the centre of Bradford.

Cricket has been played at Esholt for 110 years and the club returned to the Bradford League in 1999, a significant step in an era of steady progress on and off the field. .

Groundsman Geoff Wilkinson said: "We have added three new strips to the square and moved the artificial strip from the bottom of the square to the top.

"That means that when people want to hire the ground for matches they use the artificial strip, which helps us to protect the rest of the square for our own competitive matches.

"We have concentrated on doing a lot of scarifying at the end of the season and we have been using a lot of loam with the aim of making pitches harder to try to get more bounce and also to get them to wear better.

"We started with Mendip loam and moved on to Kettering loam and then to Broughton loam.

"We have also concentrated on improved covering for the square and bought three new mobile covers two years ago.

"We use a 36in mastiff to cut the square and the outfield.

"This represents progress from the days when we used gang mowers and the condition of the outfield has improved as a result.

"We use a Ransomes Auto Certes to cut the pitches and Sisis scarifier with a brush. Our ground is low lying, situated between a major stream and the river, so we need to do a lot of spiking.

"We also do a lot of rolling, on average five hours per match, using a three ton Greens 1966 roller."

The result of all this work on the square and the investment in new machinery has been to create a square that produces is a glut of runs in most Esholt matches. On one recent weekend 1,100 runs were scored in two matches on the same pitch.

The ground was under three feet of water during the floods of the 2000-2001 winter, but Geoff Wilkinson said: "Fortunately we were not left with silt and other debris from the floods although we lost all our equipment and we have had to renew it since then.

"That flood was exceptional, but we do have a lot of problems with flooding and so we are trying to raise the level of the square by top dressing," said Geoff Wilkinson.

Esholt also have a football ground next to the cricket field, which means their club facilities are in use all the year round. The local side Salt Old Boys play in the West Riding County Amateur League.

This summer Esholt have turned the football pitch round and re-seeded it a month ago. The recent mixed weather - sunshine and rain - has helped the grass to grow and club officials are delighted.

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