Fireworks at Edgbaston
We had a Firework spectacular at Edgbaston last Saturday, in more ways than one! It was organised by Birmingham Council and, according to reports, about 12,000 people attended.
On the Friday morning, after a lot of rain the day before and overnight, I arrived at the ground to find that the company setting up the spectacular had laid a lot of cables across the square, which wasn't covered. The cables were for a laser powered screen in the middle of the ground. I had left 2 wickets undressed at the end of the square because I was told they would need about 7 metres width for the cables. I thought, if they make a mess over there I can reseed the damage and cover with our black mats to aid germination.
Instead, they have walked everywhere and damaged 6 wickets, one of which is the test match wicket and another is the one day international wicket. It's a bit like a ploughed field in the middle at the moment. They were also supposed to have cleared the outfield of used fireworks and debris on the Sunday. One of my lads has just gone round on a little Honda that sucks up any loose stuff, and he's taken off eight barrow loads. There are scorch marks all over the outfield, and we'd only just finished reseeding and top dressing.
I hope they made enough money because it is going to cost a lot to repair the damage that was done.
I have had a quote of nearly £7,000 to Koro the four wickets. We are going to have to re-turf all the scorched areas and get the verti drain out again.
I am also thinking of getting one of these big balloon covers that I saw at Southampton recently. It's not cheap to buy or hire, but if I can get some hot air pumping through, like a greenhouse, I might get some growth on to the square in the winter months.
We have the ICT Trophy matches at the end of September next year, after the normal season. We host 5 matches and each wicket has to play at least 3 games. At the moment you couldn't wouldn't play anything on it.
I am desperate to get some growth on the wicket now. The way I'm thinking at the moment is to strip the surface down to 50mm with the Koro and re-do the wicket all over again, which will be a nightmare, not including the worry of such late season work. It had been our best re-growth ever. September and October were magnificent, the germination was fabulous, the square was just like a carpet with thick grass everywhere. Well, it was!
It is going to be an expensive business trying to put it right. As you can appreciate, we cannot afford to lose a Test match or a one day international. They bring in a lot of money. You only need one bad pitch report and you can be struck off.
I was very impressed with the big balloon cover I saw at Southampton. It would cover my square easily. Time wise, it took about 20 minutes to get it fully inflated. I couldn't afford 20 minutes whilst it's raining. At the moment, I can cover the whole square in 5 minutes. However, with this balloon cover, you can actually work under it, and play under it if you want to. It's about 60 feet high and enclosed at both ends. You could get at least 2 full size 5 a side pitches in it.
I would see a great advantage of having the cover, especially around October/November time to help germination and growth and do ongoing maintenance. In theory you could create warmth 12 months a year in there. I know you need the frosts to break up the underneath but, if you have a bad September during reseeding and a bad October, the cover could be used as a greenhouse and germination would be very good, I imagine.
With more and more cricket being played, the grass needs to be thicker and lusher because it takes so much hammering during the season. It is always noticeable that the last wicket played on is always the slowest to come back the following season regardless of how good or bad the weather is. The covers would give us a great advantage.
I am now waiting for a meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss our next course of action. He's away at the moment, back at the end of this week, and we'll have to talk it through with the pitches committee.