When a batch of Kaloam, more akin to gravel, was delivered to cricket groundsmen last year, it brought consternation and criticism from those that had been affected.
Fast forward a couple of months and the suppliers, Monro Horticulture Ltd., trading as Monro Sport, went into receivership, leaving genuine concerns about the supply of this popular product through 2011.
Perhaps the biggest concern was that there was no comment from those in the know. The silence was deafening, leading the way to rumour and conjecture, much of it posted on the Pitchcare message board for all to read.
Monro Sport were an amalgam of companies, including Goundrey, Binder Loams and Roffeys, with Alan Ford and Philip Furner heading up the group.
Now, it appears that, out of the ashes of Monro, Binder Loams and Roffey Brothers have continued trading, with both companies able to offer 'Kaloam', or a derivitive. Both companies have issued statements.
Philip Furner, Manager of Binder Loams said "I would like to put the record straight regarding the incorrect information that has been quoted by our competitors hoping to score off our unfortunate circumstances. It has been reported that Monro Horticulture Ltd. was placed in receivership, This is incorrect, it is in administration."
"As a result, Binder Loams, a division of Monro Horticulture, has continued to trade throughout the administration and has since been purchased as a going concern, and is now trading as Binder Loams Ltd."
"Despite the administration of Monro Horticulture Ltd., and the demise of Monro Sport as a marketing name, Binders continued to trade through this difficult period, there was no break in service at Binders, all orders were fulfilled, all the staff retained and everything continued as normal."
Ongar Loam™, Ongar Loam™ plus, Binders Cricket Pitch Dressing, Super Surrey, and now Kaloam 2011, are being produced and are available at any time from Binders."
From Roffey Brothers came this statement; "We are pleased to announce that we are now undertaking the manufacture and supply of the original Kaloam, as produced at Enstone prior to its closure. In addition, Mr Alan Ford, who has been manufacturing Kaloam for the past decade, joins us on a consultancy basis."
"We have secured enough supply of original Kaloam (clay from the Oxford/Kettering area) for the foreseeable future."
In addition, Alan Ford commented; "It is most important that this original material is used, as any variation from it will cause panning, root sheer and have a different binding strength. Use of any variant will not be apparent for a couple of years when the wicket is likely to develop variable bounce and speed."
Entering the debate, and perhaps adding to the confusion, came GSB Loams' David Goodjohn. "We have sourced materials identical to and compatible with the loam previously called Kaloam. Respecting the legal restrictions still in effect, we have classified the material as 'loam suitable for topdressing a cricket square or tennis court built from Goundrey or Banbury Loam' (names also associated with the same product). This phrase may be long winded, but it acknowledges the legal restrictions in place surrounding the name more readily used to describe such a type of loam."
Roffeys Managing Director, Trevor Poole, comments; "Restoring the integrity of Kaloam, following last year's issues, is our priority and, by utilising ISO 9001 Quality Assurance, should ensure that this is achieved. Maintaining recent prices remains our second priority. Orders are being co-ordinated by Technical Sales Manager, Dave Morland. He is available, along with Alan Ford, to carry out health checks and help resolve issues on your wicket."
Philip Furner states: "You will note that we have included Kaloam 2011 within our product range, as the Monro Enstone depot that did produce Kaloam last year is no longer operational. We have sourced material, had it analysed for its suitability and ability to be successfully used on existing Kaloam pitches, and will be produced to the same exacting standard as you have come to expect from Binders."
Both Binders and Roffeys have an historical claim to the Kaloam brand name but, as Pitchcare editor, Laurence Gale stated; "At the end of the day, it is just soil. As long as it is compatible with what groundsmen are already using, there should be no problem. I would, though, urge every groundsman using Kaloam to carry out motty tests prior to parting with their hard earned cash."
David Goodjohn concurs. "Our product is already being successfully used, and you are welcome to test through motties and other processes to establish compatability for yourself, rather than having to rely on others."
Head Groundsman Michael Atherton, advises "If in doubt, do your own tests or, even better, consult with a respected, independent agronomist. If you are not 100% sure what is in the bags, don't put it on your squares."
"For many of those who were hit with the 'Kastone' (myself included), you already have enough rubbish in your square - why add another potential problem - know the product that you are putting on your square, and its compatibility with the material that is already there. The only way anything goes on my squares, amidst the current confusion, is if each product has been tested by myself (motties), and independent lab analysis - and suitable results are achieved with all tests. If suitable test results aren't achieved, it isn't going on my squares, regardless of what type of loam, or 'name' it has."
Kaloam 2011 produced by Binders is available to buy from Pitchcare: Kaloam 2011