Experimenting at Warwickshire
By Steve Rouse
At the moment we're planning to do some work on the No 1 practice area. We've relayed 20 new wickets.
The old bowling ends where the bowler lands were originally the former outfield; it is very soft and has taken some hammering from these heavyweight bowlers. We are going to take off the top 2 inches with a Turf cutter and put down some Banbury loam to bind it so, hopefully, next year they won't go through the top so quickly.
We have got a few more games left here at Edgbaston so the remaining wickets will be cut down, given a good brushing and more rolling. With the recent warm weather the square has dried well. The forecast though for the next few days isn't great, but if we can get the lads started on time they won't moan. Hopefully, they can go and sneak a few more points and move up the table so they can stay in the first division.
It's been a difficult year for the team. We've managed to get the runs on the board but we've struggled to bowl other teams out.
We have had a few problems with some of the wickets on the main square - we will have to dig up 2 of them plus one of the Test wickets. The old wickets have curled up at the ends, a bit like a sandwich that has gone stale. Strangely, the original Test wicket was fine, as flat as a billiard table, but the other 2 have curled. I haven't the foggiest idea why they've done that. It looks as if we will have to get the Koro on them at the end of the season and re-lay the top couple of inches. So, they won't be available to use next season.
I laid those wickets with a mixture from Surrey loam- Pete Marron uses it at Old Trafford. I chatted with him a couple of years ago because I wanted to do something different, we call it the Old Trafford mix. Every wicket, bar 3, on the square are exactly the same - Surrey/Ongar mix.
Most wickets around the country are Surrey/Ongar, except the Taunton wickets which have been there nearly 100 years. God knows what loam Phil has under his, but they are very successful.
I went to see Pete and he told me about the mix he was going to try out - the 2 Test matches he had on this new mix were magnificent. There was plenty of pace and bounce, and the balls turned as well. I thought if it's good enough for Pete I'll give it a try as well. Unfortunately, we've not been able to play on ours as yet.
If you notice, Pete doesn't bother reseeding unless he has a good 2 week break. He takes games to Blackpool or Liverpool to give himself time to work on the wicket. I wish I could take some of our games to Coventry or somewhere else so I could get mine reseeded. I saw Pete's recent floodlit game and the wicket looked like it did at the start of the season, because he'd had time to reseed and probably back-matted it. His wicket is absolutely magnificent at the moment.
So, I wouldn't say there was any problem in growing grass in this loam.
We have the home game at the moment and another Sunday slog on the Monday (work that one out?). Yes, I've got a couple of quiet weeks ahead!!