1 Quick drying loam enables play at Eldwick and Gilstead CC

Loam drains well at Eldwick and Gilstead CC

By David Markham

A change of loam has brought tangible drainage benefits to Eldwick and Gilstead Cricket Club in a damp summer.

Groundsman Garvin Clarke has used Ongar loam on his square for the first time and he said: "I think it has made a difference.

"We use a mixture of Kettering and Ongar loam and we have played on days when we didn't expect to play. The square normally drains well because it is on a slope, but I think it drains quicker with Ongar loam. It takes the rain better in that the water soaks in quicker.

"For instance, if it is raining on Saturday mornings I know I can get the roller on the pitch by noon and it doesn't damage it. I know every blade of grass on that square and when to use the roller."

Eldwick, who play in the Bradford Central League, have one of the highest grounds Bradford district - some 600 feet above sea level.

The ground is on the edge of the famous Ilkley Moor only about 100 yards from the almost equally famous Dick Hudson's hotel. From there, players and spectators can enjoy panoramic views of the Aire Valley, Haworth and the Worth Valley, the city of Bradford and beyond to the Emley Moor television mast near Huddersfield.

The elevated location of the ground suggests a challenge to the Groundsman - there is also the handicap of the club having no running water - but Eldwick boasts one of the best batting squares in the Bradford Central League.

This is their third ground in less than 50 years and the present square was laid in 1970 on a bed of ash with top soil and a top dressing.

"I try to give the square as much preparation as I can," said Garvin. "After matches, I cut the used pitch in midweek, repair it if there is any damage, rake it to get any thatch off, clean and pick up the old grass with the mower, water the ends and roll it."

Garvin uses a multi blade Ransomes mower for the square and, one advantage Eldwick over some other clubs in their league is the weight of the roller - a three ton former road roller the club acquired from Middlesbrough Cricket Club more than 30 years ago.

He is now planning his end of season work with scarifying, spiking and top dressing - and, he has also got his stock of Ongar loam!

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