Bradford and Bingley Cricket Club (05/05/02)
In his latest report, Bradford & Bingley CC Groundsman Paul Markham describes how he prepared two pitches at the same time for big
Here, he describes a week's work on the cricket square.
"April showers will bloom in May!
After a most spectacular April, we are now back to a changeable period. Rain, sun and showers is the order of day and this makes pitch preparation a challenging experience.
Pushing covers on and off is a part of my job I do not like. Watching out for the building clouds that produce the rain is frustrating especially when you are trying to keep two pitches dry.
On Saturday (May 4) our first team played Salts in the first round of the Bradford League Priestley Cup. Also on Tuesday (May 7) we are staging the Yorkshire-Derbyshire county second team trophy match and these pitches, as always, have to be the best I can produce. Priority had to be given to the Yorkshire second team match, which meant the main covers went on that pitch. Additional sheeting went on the first team pitch.
Unfortunately, the covers were not on Monday morning-April 29-which meant I had to take swift action to cover the pitches.
High winds caused another problem and they blew over a sight screen, destroying it and also ripping off some of the sheets on the mobile covers. So, as you can see, Monday was definitely a day I would rather forget.
Tuesday began with heavy rain clearing to showers which meant my pitches were wet and I had to use an old fashioned technique - blankets laid out and a light roller over the top to drag the moisture out. The blankets were wet, but they did a great job.
On Wednesday I used a heavy roller for ten minutes on each pitch and then stopped because the pitches looked brownish from the moisture extracted. Not to worry. In the afternoon another ten minutes rolling and then at the end of the day a further ten minutes. Progress was beginning to happen.
On Thursday I sprang out of bed when I saw the sunshine. I took the covers off, cut the pitch at 5mm and rolled each pitch for half an hour. I had the covers off all day and, despite the weather forecast, it never rained which was great.
On Friday I cut both pitches down to 3mm and rolled them for half an hour each in the morning and then a quarter of an hour in the afternoon.
By the end of the day my pitches were looking OK. The first team pitch was flat and firm to hard. The Yorkshire pitch was the same, but with still four days to go and a dry forecast, fingers crossed I will have the type of surface Bradford & Bingley CC are known for."