Worfield Cricket Club
By Laurence Gale
The club currently runs a 1st and 2nd eleven who play in the Shropshire Banks League and who have, in recent years, developed a youth section catering for U11, U13 and U16 players (girls and boys). The club plays well over 80 fixtures a year at Davenport Park.
However, none of these teams could play if it was not for the generosity and endeavour of the volunteers who help manage and prepare the facilities week in week out, especially the ground staff, who for the last ten years have dedicated themselves to preparing and maintaining the cricket square and outfield facilities. The main contributors responsible for managing the facilities are Tim Beardsmore, 1st team vice captain, and Stuart Buck committee member. Both have been involved with the club for many years (Tim 21, Stuart 35 years) and both share the daily/weekly working duties at the club.
The square was laid in 1952/53 with no drainage systems installed and remains the same to this day. Tim stated that they do not lose many matches due to rain, as the outfield is very free draining being a loamy sand soil. Any surface water on the square is usually able to disperse onto the outfield. The square caters for twelve natural turf wickets and one artificial wicket. Of the twelve wickets, ten are maintained with Mendip loams and two managed using a Banbury loam. Tim stated that the two Banbury wickets are the best and generally out perform the Mendip wickets by 30% with an average batting figure of 350-400 runs being achieved on these wickets.
The cricket season's preparation starts at the end of September with the autumn renovation programme. This involves aeration and scarification being carried out in many directions on the square, followed by top dressing, fertilising and overseeding. The club recently acquired a pedestrian SISIS truspred, which is considered to have improved the quality of top dressing operations. Previously, it was completed by hand using shovels resulting in well over 175-350 kgs of loam being applied per wicket, often too much dressing. By using the Truspread, they have better control and can now apply more accurately about 110 kgs of loam per wicket.
|Reducing grass height||Scarifying wicket||Tim mowing square|
The square was fertilised and oversown with dwarf rye grass seed; the result of this work is evident with the amount of grass growth and sward density now seen on the square this March. An Atco mower is used at the start of the growing season to maintain the square's sward height at 25mm, and then an Auto Certes is utilised for wicket preparation. Rolling of the square began in February with a large hand roller, rolling in several directions and finally rolling in the direction of play; this continued into March, until the right conditions prevailed for using the three tonne Averling Barford roller to prepare wickets for play.
Other preseason works carried out include:
- Applying an ALS 12/8/4 spring and summer fertiliser to the square.
- Controlling moss growth by the use of sulphate of iron and raking out the dead moss debris.
- Monitoring soil ph. This is currently measured at ph5, somewhat low; ideally it should be about ph 6.5. However, this low ph has reduced worm activity on the square. Any worm activity is usually treated with Crossfire.
- Mole activity is usually seen on the outer boundary of the site and rarely seen invading the outfield. Any movement towards the outfield sees swift intervention with mole traps.
With well over 50 fixtures a year being played on the square, Tim and Stuart have to plan and maximise the use of the wickets prepared, usually trying to obtain at least four games per wicket. Most junior matches and evening games are played on the artificial wicket enabling the reduction of wear on the natural turf wickets. The artificial wicket has been in use for well over ten years and still offers a reasonable game of cricket and match practice for the players. They also ensure that the best wickets are kept and prepared for the best matches, especially the Banbury wickets, knowing that these are good batting wickets capable of averaging 350 runs per game.
The first game was played on Saturday 10th April and, as expected, the wicket performed reasonably well for the time of the year. In early spring wickets tend to be low and slow, the speed will improve with higher temperatures and sunny days. This, coupled with ongoing rolling preparation programme, will result in increased ball speed and bounce as the season progresses. After the wicket has been used, it is soaked with water to enable repairs to be carried out. Having water available on the square helps this process, enabling a quick and efficient repair of the wicket.
The outfield is rolled once at the beginning of the season, employing the services of the local farmer to settle any winter soil lift, followed by weekly mowing at the start of March using a Ransomes 36 inch Mastiff mower. Frequency of mowing usually increases to at least twice weekly, taking on average four hours to complete each cut.
No fertiliser is currently applied to the outfield, as it grows well without. Although applying fertiliser would improve the quality of the turf, it would also require additional cutting, which would increase Tim and Stuart's workload. Time is precious to voluntary staff. They currently put in well over ten hours each a week already, therefore cricket pitch preparation and maintenance is their priority. In Previous years any weed control on the outfields was completed by contractors however this year Tim and Stuart will be able to spray the outfields themselves, having purchased with their own money (£320) an "Allen Fieldmaster Sprayer" which they intend to tow behind the ride on mower. This purchase will enable greater flexibility in when and how often they will be able to spray and control weeds and pests.
All the club's machinery is serviced annually; particularly the mowers, which have their cylinders reground and sharpened. The total annual budget for all repairs, servicing and materials totals about £1000 per year. Any additional equipment is budgeted from off field activities and local sponsors. Recent acquisitions have seen the purchase of new practice nets that have transportable frames made locally by Mick Seedhouse. I have seen at first hand how these perform, they are easily manoeuvred into position, are vandal-proof and are quickly ready for play. These portable net frames give Worfield Cricket club greater flexibility in where and how they can utilise the square and artificial wickets for net practices. The net frames have been so successful that Mick has been asked to make some more for local clubs.
Without the services of Tim and Stuart and any of the other volunteers, Worfield Cricket Club would not be able to offer such quality facilities. It is a credit to their dedication and commitment that, as with many other clubs Groundsmen, they are rewarded with the knowledge that the club's players are able to demonstrate their skills with bat and ball and are able to play on a safe and consistent pitch.
Tim and Stuart are satisfied with the equipment they have. However, they are keen to continue looking for ways to make the job more efficient, and are now looking for a mini tractor unit, which would offer greater flexibility in carrying out tasks on their ground. They are aware that they would benefit from improving their technical knowledge by attending seminars and ECB courses. Much support can be gained from organisations like Pitchcare and the IOG, but opportunities to meet up with fellow Groundsmen and industry professionals would enable them to gain a better understanding of Groundsmanship.
The club have managed to acquire three essential pieces of equipment from their local blacksmith, Mick Seedhouse, all designed and manufactured specifically for the club. If any cricket clubs are interested in purchasing or obtaining information about these items then please contact me at Pitchcare. firstname.lastname@example.org
|New net frames||New covers||Sight screens|
The club can be contacted at the pavilion 01746 716351 or web site www.worfieldcc.co.uk