The Surrey Cricket Groundsman's Association (SCGA), now in its sixth year, boasting a current membership in excess of 180, held its annual conference at the Brit Oval on the 25th March.
The sixty-plus gathering was treated to a variety of presentations throughout the day finishing with a walk around the Oval's new outfield and a chance to view at close quarters one of the finest cricket squares in the world. Our thanks go to Bill Gordon for allowing us this privilege.
The day began with an excellent talk from Nick Martin of Scotts, on the new fungicide, 'Headway' and the much awaited moss-killer 'Jewel'. This two-part chemical product also controls weeds as it contains Mecoprop-P as well as Carfetrazone which is the active moss killing ingredient.
This was followed by a presentation from John Noyce (Sherriff Amenity) on the plant growth regulator 'PrimoMAXX'. Many attendees bore testimony to the use of this chemical with the 'cleanness of finish' being mentioned several times by those using this product.
Bill Clutterbuck, Head Groundsman from Guilford CC, who has many accolades for his four-day and one-day county pitches, as well as receiving the 'Ransomes-Jacobsen Trophy for Achievements in Cricket Groundsmanship', gave us a talk on the 'Down to Earth Approach to Pitch Preparation and Renovation'.
Bill's clear description of his daily routine preparing county pitches was an eye-opener for us all. (Taking the grass height down from 12mm to a match height of 4mm, over a fifteen-day period of daily rolling, cutting and raking).
Bill also operates an intensive scarification programme which takes place all year round, including the summer months, in his battle against the cricket groundsman's worst enemy, 'thatch'. Bill's method certainly works, the Guildford County pitches are marked very highly by the County umpires each year.
John Maillinson of Mallinson Sports Ground Contractors Ormskirk gave us all an excellent pictorial presentation of the £600k-plus reconstruction of the Oval outfield. Drainage, sand amelioration, re-turfing and the installation of pop-up sprinklers were all completed during some appalling weather in London over the New Year period.
The completed work certainly looked impressive, despite the weather problems, credit must go to John and his team.
Ed Stoddart and Tony Good from Stuart Canvas Products introduced us to the variety of pitch covers now offered by Stuart Canvas Ltd, ranging from breathable sheeting through the various grades and weights of flat sheet covers to the traditional mobile wheel-on variety.
The last presentation was given by our old friend, Keith Kensett, who travels the world (literally) looking for new innovations in turf maintenance. The Grayden Machine being only one such example he has introduced to our shores. A new approach to low-rate pesticide application was his topic this year. We thank you Keith for your enthusiastic approach to turf maintenance - long may it continue!
The election of officers for the SCGA was carried out with George Alexander taking over the role of Chairman. The elected officers were as follows:
Secretary: John Philpin
Treasurer: Andrew Lane
Committee: Bill Clutterbuck. Paul Brind. Andy Goulding. Owen Winser. John Milner, John Dodwell, Chris Bullen
Our thanks go to the previous Chairman, Chris Bullen who has been a tireless worker and was instrumental in the setting up of the SCGA. Cheers 'Bullo' on a job well done.
As previously mentioned, the day ended with a much-enjoyed tour of the outfield and square.
With such large numbers now attending the event, one barely has time to say hello to the many old friends and colleagues, let alone make time for that all-important chat and exchange of ideas, such is the popularity of this fun and instructive day!
Finally, the SCGA would like to thank the Brit Oval for hosting the event and the many visitors from outside Surrey who attended, we look forward to seeing you at our 'Groundsman Clinics' supported by Sisis at Caterham School on May 27th 2pm and at Guildford Cricket Club on July 28th 2pm.