Pre-season rolling at Park Avenue
By David Markham
Chris Cay and Richard Robinson, co-Groundsmen at Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground are stepping up their rolling programme in preparation for the new season.
The ground, which was used for first class matches by Yorkshire for more than 100 years, is the headquarters of the Bradford and Leeds Universities Centre of Excellence whose players plan to start outdoor practice sessions and practice matches in the first full week of April.
Chris Cay said: "We are getting ready for the their first practice on Monday, April 8 and then they have an academy match against Essex on Wednesday, April 10.
"The secret of pre-season rolling is not to let the ground dry out on its own accord. You have got to have a compact depth of four to five inches in the ground because that is where you get the pace and bounce during the season. We are able to achieve that depth of compaction with pre-season rolling.
"It is important that the conditions are right and that we use the correct machinery for rolling. You gradually build up the weight of the roller.
"We have been using a one ton roller, which is the average size of roller for a club ground. Now, we are using a heavier roller - about two tons.
"As well as the weight of the roller we monitor the speed of our rolling. If the ground is soft we go a lot quicker and as we build up our weight we gradually cut down our speed. It is a balancing act. Everything revolves around the conditions and the weather.
"In the south of England they will start a month before we do because the ground conditions and the weather are so different. We are behind them in what we can do.
"We have still got a lot of thatch on the outfield and we are treating it with a seaweed extract of soluble iron which we spray on the ground. Once the solution has done its work we can scarify to get rid of the moss and the thatch. The solution also gives the grass a nice tinge of green because it contains nitrogen. We are trying to improve the texture of the outfield, but it going to be a slow process."