March maintenance at Shrewsbury's County Cricket Ground
By Wayne Lumbard
Now we are into March we have managed to carry out most of the work that was scheduled for February, except the rolling, due to the recent snow/rain. However, we should still have plenty of time in the next couple of weeks to catch up with the rolling programmes.
During March we will be mowing the squares on a weekly basis with our Dennis cylinder mower and, by the end of the month, the squares will be cut to a height of 18mm. The weight of the mower of course will also help to consolidate the squares, always alternating the cut each time. We also plan to mechanical brush the squares, again using the cassette system, at the end of the month. This must be done in the right conditions otherwise it can have devastating effects.
Then, to keep the surface dry and free draining and also to relieve surface tension, we intend to sorrel roll, again on a fortnightly basis. We have no problems at all with moss, algae and lichen. This is fine for we want to achieve. We will carry on with the daily swishing to reduce surface moisture and to remove the odd worm cast, but only when conditions allow.
We put on an application of Autumn/Winter fertiliser in February, so no more will be put on now until two weeks before the start of the season. We will change over to a liquid feed for the season.
At this time of year I also look at what's happening under the surface and take out core samples, giving them a visual inspection, looking for any layers, root depth, white new roots, thatch layer etc., to give me an idea on what has been happening and what needs my attention. Towards the end of the month we will also apply a wetting agent which lasts up to 3 months.
The outfield is used for mini-soccer until the end of March. It will be kept at 25mm until the end of the month when it will be reduced to 20mm. We use the Dennis trailed mower to cut and lightly roll, to keep the surface true, filling in and replacing any divots and scars ready for the season ahead.
The rolling programme will continue, increasing the weight gradually throughout March ready for heavy rolling in April. If you want to get ahead of yourself you may want to square off your squares using the 3.4.5 triangle method making sure your measurements on all four sides are spot on (check 3 times), marking out your wickets at the same time. We have 20 wickets to mark out and, again, check your measurements all the time.
We also have to finish renovating five wickets that we started in October, but couldn't finish due to all the rain we had. They will be finished and,hopefully, having their first cut before the start of the season.
Scoreboards will be maintained and checked, riverside fences have to be bought and put up. Also, for the first time ever, there might be a chance to have wicket covers, but we will have to wait and see.
Remember, attention to detail is very important in everything that we have to do, it doesn't cost any more to get the job done right. And, finally, March is really the last month to get all those winter jobs done and get your grounds looking very good and ready for spring.