0 Keith Boyce makes welcome return

Keith Boyce makes welcome return

By David Markham

For more than 20 years Keith Boyce had one of the highest profile jobs of any cricket groundsman in England. Always, it seemed, his pitch at Headingley was under the spotlight.

When he retired as cricket groundsman, Keith continued to look after the adjoining the rugby league pitch at Headingley.

Now, he is heavily involved with cricket again as full-time groundsman at the highly acclaimed Yorkshire Academy headquarters at New Rover CC, just off the Leeds ring road next to the village of Adel north of the city.

Bradford City chairman Geoffrey Richmond is president of New Rover and the ground is called the Richmond Oval. New Rover play in the Wetherby League and since 2000 the ground has also been headquarters of Yorkshire's academy.

Distinguished visitors come to admire the facilities, including, last season, England captain Nasser Hussain.

Keith Boyce, now in his 60s is as enthusiastic as ever about being a cricket groundsman.

He said: "Less than ten years ago the ground was a farmer's field. The club asked me to look at the square and I discovered they were getting it wrong. Fortunately they took my advice.

"I was still working at Headingley then, but I worked with the club helping them with their square.

"Then Yorkshire got involved in 2000 and I took over the whole ground.

"When the ground was being established thousands of tons of landfill were needed to get the land level because there was a big slope towards the ring road.

"We are fortunate because we are on a little area of soil, which is ideal for cricket squares. We have not got to import a lot of soil. It is here naturally.

"The soil formation is clay loam. I would hate it to be a football field because you would be knee deep in mud, but it is good for cricket.

"I am employed by Yorkshire now which means I am officially back on the Headingley groundstaff again.

"New Rover are trying to buy the adjacent paddock to make another practice area.

"Having Yorkshire involved has given me better equipment and a better standard of material and it allows me to work here full-time which is an advantage.

"I have got a garage in which to store my equipment, a chemical store and a small workshop, all provided by Yorkshire. The scoreboard, which used to be on the bowling green at Headingley is being transferred to New Rover.

"Since late September I have sown new seed. The surface was treated with a light dressing of top spoil. Throughout the winter months my whole emphasis has been on establishing the new grass that I sowed last autumn.

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