Sedbergh South School
By David Markham
Rain and drainage problems have played havoc with the cricket programme at Sedbergh School.
Sedbergh, set in south Cumbria within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, is one of the leading public schools in the north.
The school has 450 students aged 11 to 18, most of them boarders and they started taking girls last September.
The girls play hockey, rounders and athletics, but the basic sporting diet at the school remains cricket and rugby union.
Martin South, who has been Head Groundsman at Sedbergh for two years, said: "The cricket season has been badly disrupted by the weather and a lot of matches have been called off. In fact, we have played only four matches on the square.
The reason for the cancellations has been the weather and an additional drainage problem down the pavilion side of the ground. Now, new drains are being installed.
In my first year at Sedbergh I re-laid three strips because we are looking to stage Minor Counties cricket and I would like to re-lay another two strips to make a block of five new pitches in the middle of the square.
We have had a Cumberland under-19s game at Sedbergh this year and we would like a Minor Counties game.
One of the problems we have at Sedbergh is that the sports fields are surrounded by a lot of grazing fields which spreads meadow grass and that is something I need top get rid of.
It is like a grass weed in a sports field. I am trying to plant dwarf perennial rye grass, do some scarification and re-seeding to cure the problem."
Martin, who trained at Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground, was Groundsman at Bradford & Bingley Sports Club looking after rugby union and cricket before moving to Giggleswick public school in the Yorkshire Dales.
He was at Giggleswick for seven years before moving to Sedbergh. There, he has three staff working with him on the sports grounds and three gardening staff.
He said: "We picked out four rugby pitches at Sedbergh for top dressing and re-seeding. We don't bother with verti-draining because compaction is not a problem. We slit the pitches once every three weeks and when it is moist in summer we slit them again.
The trouble with the rugby pitches is that they are 40 to 45 per cent silt. That means they get wet very quickly so we are trying to apply top dressing over the years and change the condition of the soil and dilute."Sedbergh's rugby record is one of the best in the country. Four former students play in the Premiership and are catching the eye of the England selectors. "I would like to see cricket go the same way," said Martin.