I'm feeling-glad (it's) all over
The club have had a very successful season, winning the Championship. The bowlers have struggled a little bit, but our batsmen have been admirable, scoring 400+ runs on average.
At Edgbaston the wickets have been pretty flat, allowing the batsmen to score freely, but it has been an uphill battle for the bowlers. During the season it was funny to see the batsmen come in through the gate with big smiles, while the bowlers needed a JCB to pick their chins up!
There has been one blip in the season, the game against Worcester, where the pitch was reported. To be fair I was experimenting slightly and had left a little more grass on the strip and not watered it as much as I should have. The consequence was that by the second day the ball was doing all manner of strange things. In hindsight I shouldn't have messed things about but I suppose the only way you find out is during a full game. Following this we then became ultra-cautious and made the wickets even flatter. The batsmen were scoring 600-700 runs; this obviously upset the bowlers further.
We didn't finish the season until very late because of the ICC Trophy matches, the last of which was played on the 21st September. This is too late in my book, as we've already had our first frost of the year and even last night the temperatures were down to 2 degrees overnight. We had been fortunate enough to renovate much of the square already, using the Graden to shred all but the four wickets that were held back for the ICC games.
It was a good decision to take as the new seed has come through already, which should put us in good stead for next season.
As soon as the last game was finished, we flooded down the square again and then set to work on the last four wickets. These too, were scarified with the Graden in four directions, overseeded with 6x25kg of a Barenbrug seed mix. Finally we used about five and a half tonnes of Ongar loam to dress the square. I have also used some R1 from Rigby Taylor on our No1 wicket, and I am using a special mix of seed on our Surrey loam 'Old Trafford mix' wicket in the middle of the square.
This wicket has caused us problems for the last three years in terms of cracking. I spoke to Pete Marron at Old Trafford about it originally and he said to me that the wicket needed to be hand forked and dressed to counter the problem. In the first year I used a vertidrain on the wicket, completing three passes to get a tight pattern. But this didn't work, so the second year I used the 'drill and fill' technique, again on a tight pattern, but this has still failed to stop the cracks occurring. This year I have asked my lads to hand fork the wicket to a depth of 250-300mm, which they are not completely overjoyed about to say the least! Hopefully the weather will be reasonably dry next week, so if they do about five feet each every day then it should be done by the Friday. Anyway I'm not sure what they are moaning about, I've bought them five brand new forks to do the job with!
The seed that I've had specially mixed contains Bareine, Ace, Merci. I feel that these are the best on the market and are particularly resistant towards disease.
. This area will be where the big screen will be placed for the event. The club will have the rest of the square covered with Trakway and roped off. Given the problems that I had last year, I have asked for guarantees that there will not be the same problems again. (See previous article).
There are still germination sheets out on the square ends and the last four wickets that we've renovated; the rest of the square is now coming along just fine.
The outfield was finished yesterday with the Graden. We did two passes across the outfield and took off seven skips of rubbish. The outfield has looked great this year, and even with the scarifying completed it still looks good. We are overseeding the area now, but we will wait until later in the winter before we top dress with sand (80-100 tonnes) and vertidrain.
Obviously it has been a very long season, perhaps too long, we have averaged in excess of 85 hours each week through from the spring until now. The lads want a break for a few weeks and I'm off on my hols as well.
Good luck with all your renovations.