1 Five Star Performance for Top Cricket Groundsman

Phil SkeltonBritish Seed Houses' A5 Cricket and Lawn Tennis seed mixture is helping a busy cricket club maintain grass coverage on its pitches, no matter how hard the members hammer them.

Head groundsman Phil Skelton has been at Driffield Cricket Club for 40 years, after the lure of the great outdoors proved too strong for the former office worker. And passion for the club runs in the family - Phil's assistant is his 26 year-old son Chris.

The pair are kept busy on the 13 acre site which comprises of two cricket fields with 30 pitches in total, seven lawn tennis courts and two bowling greens.

Phil comments that grass seed has come a long way since he first started in 1970.
"Originally, I used a Ryegrass and Creeping Red Fescue mix on my wicket ends. On the actual 'table' I used a fine bowling green seed mixture - I sourced these from a local seed merchant. Over the years I have used many different company's mixtures so I have a good knowledge of what is out there.

He has used British Seed Houses' A5 Cricket seed mixture since 2007, as he explains.
"I was starting to struggle a bit with grass coverage on the cricket pitches. I got talking to a friend and he recommended A5 to me as it is good at recovering quickly from wear. I began to use it on all my cricket pitches and lawn tennis courts in autumn 2007."

"What I have been really impressed with is how soon it re-establishes itself. The A5 mixture is very deep rooting and bounces back well following mowing, rolling and after it has been played on. It regenerates very well. The sward is also a lovely deep green colour giving it an attractive appearance in the winter. It is very 'fine leaved ', like a bowling green in some ways. I am also pleased with its high level of disease resistance."

Phil comments that he noticed really good, quick germination and establishment from the moment he started using A5.

He is always keen to learn about new products and techniques, visiting BTME at Harrogate every year.
But he insists: "I would definitely see myself sticking with A5 in the future as I am impressed with the end result plus the competitive price that they are able to offer."

"Delivery is quick as well. I order 3 three 20kg bags for the summer months, and then four 20kg bags for my autumn renovation programme".

The autumn seeds are well away by the time Phil begins preparing the pitches, about two weeks before a new match, he explains. "I initially start cutting and scarifying with a Dennis FT510 cassette system set at 8mm. I then gradually take it down as the season gets closer, finally getting down to about 3mm for play."

His attention to detail won him the ECB Yorkshire Groundsman of the Year award in 2009, but he deflects much of the credit to A5: "I am sure that a lot of it has definitely got to be down to the A5 mixture as it has improved my pitches so much in the last few years. The award is based on players and team captains rating the quality of clubs in Yorkshire throughout the season. Sustainability of a good sward and recovery was crucial, and I have been able to confidently achieve that however busy the club became," he says.

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