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Preparing a Cricket Wicket

This year’s ICC world cup starts on the 30th May and finishes on the 14th of July, no doubt a very busy year for our county cricket groundsmen, especially those, who will be hosting some of the World Cup matches at their grounds.

Spare a thought for Karl Mcdermott who only this year took up his new post at Lords. Knowing Karl as I do, he like many cricket groundmen are very well organised and plan to the ninth degree the work that will be required to prepare a pitch for a cricket match, let alone an international world cup fixture. Those pitches have usually been identified a couple of years in advance.

However, the recipe for preparing a good wicket is purely down to the effort and skill of the groundsman. As with all pitches, it is the work done in the Autumn that starts the process, followed by the effectiveness of the preseason rolling programme in February/March and finally the work completed during a 10-14 day wicket preparation.

Every Groundsman’s preparations will be different. No two pitches are ever the same and neither is the equipment, time and resources that the clubs may have at his disposal. Some clubs have covering and watering systems whilst others don’t- these factors will have a major bearing on the outcome of the pitch preparations along with what resources and time the groundstaff have to undertake these preparations.

Once you have acquired your fixture list, it is then a case of planning your pitch allocation for the whole season. You should aim to produce equal usage of each pitch. It will be necessary to place the more important fixtures towards the centre of the square and then work out accordingly.

Consecutive matches should not follow on adjacent pitches as this could mean using a strip which may be damaged from the bowlers run-off from the previous match. The two outside pitches are often reserved for junior games or practice/artificial pitches.

For the remaining pre-match days during the course of preparation, mow every day, or at least every other day, between the popping creases and, in cricket verticut combination with light scarification/brushing, progressively lower the cylinder to the desired height of cut (typically between 3-5mm), or as low as possible without scalping and ensuring the surface is not scarred or disturbed in any way.

For first-class pitches, this should, ideally, commence at least 10-14 days prior to the match or, in the case of clubs, schools etc a minimum of five days before the match. Generally, most squares are maintained at a height of cut ranging between 12-15mm all year round

Days Description of Work
1String out pitch lines to ensure correct width, 10 ft; mow out at 8mm. Always double mow (up and down the same line), using an 8 bladed pedestrian cylinder mower for maintaining the square. Test the pitch with a key or knife for moisture. Water the pitch thoroughly in the event that the pitch has dried out through pre-season rolling.

2Brush / light rake, mow at 8mm, light roll to consolidate surface levels.
3Power scarify or verticut to remove lateral growth and surface thatch avoiding deep surface disturbance. Mow at 7mm. Remove clippings, continue medium light rolling 1000kg 10-15 minutes.
4Test for moisture. Roll pitch increasing to consolidate surface with 1000kg roller if available.
5Scarify with hand rake to remove any surface thatch build up Set and mow at 6mm. roll.
6Light scarify (lawn rake) to lift sward, mow, roll 20-30 minutes.
7Light scarify by hand, mow at 6mm, increase weight of roller to 1500- 1700kg continue rolling 30 minutes reducing speed to consolidate surface. Test for consolidation with key or knife for placidity.
8Continue to mow and rolling at slow speed to achieve consolidation. Cover pitch overnight to encourage moisture to rise to surface.
9Brush / rake lifting any lateral grasses, reduce mower (with a shaver blade) to 4mm, try to avoid scalping. Roll using heavy roller slow speed (slow) morning and again late afternoon where possible. Cover pitch overnight if you have covers?
10Brush and mow pitch, roll morning and afternoon slow as possible (slow).
11Brush, mow and roll to polish surface, test bounce with an old ball along edge of pitch. Continue rolling to consolidate surface. Cover pitch overnight if you have covers?
12Brush, mow and roll polish up pitch. Your pitch should effectively have taken on a straw like colouration, a sign that preparation has been achieved.
Morning of the match On the morning of the match, start early and brush, close mow and roll (typically for around 15-20 minutes). Finally, if not done the previous day, mark out the creases on the pitch, clearly, accurately and neatly with lines not more than 25mm wide nor less than 12mm using string lines or a marking frame if available
Finally, before setting the stumps in the correct positions on the crease, place a little water in the stump holes. This will ensure that the stumps remain firmly in place for the duration of the game.

A well-prepared wicket will usually facilitate three to four matches before needing to be repaired, after match wicket repairs begin with the brushing and sweeping up of any surface debris, soaking the wicket, scarifying, spiking, topdressing and overseeding. Additional work may be required to repair damage to foot holes. It is important to carry out good repairs, as you may be required to use this wicket again later on in the season.

 

Written by Lawrence Gale

This year’s ICC world cup starts on the 30th May and finishes on the 14th of July, no doubt a very busy year for our county cricket groundsmen, especially those, who will be hosting some of the World Cup matches at their grounds.

Spare a thought for Karl Mcdermott who only this year took up his new post at Lords. Knowing Karl as I do, he like many cricket groundmen are very well organised and plan to the ninth degree the work that will be required to prepare a pitch for a cricket match, let alone an international world cup fixture. Those pitches have usually been identified a couple of years in advance.

However, the recipe for preparing a good wicket is purely down to the effort and skill of the groundsman. As with all pitches, it is the work done in the Autumn that starts the process, followed by the effectiveness of the preseason rolling programme in February/March and finally the work completed during a 10-14 day wicket preparation.

Every Groundsman’s preparations will be different. No two pitches are ever the same and neither is the equipment, time and resources that the clubs may have at his disposal. Some clubs have covering and watering systems whilst others don’t- these factors will have a major bearing on the outcome of the pitch preparations along with what resources and time the groundstaff have to undertake these preparations.

Once you have acquired your fixture list, it is then a case of planning your pitch allocation for the whole season. You should aim to produce equal usage of each pitch. It will be necessary to place the more important fixtures towards the centre of the square and then work out accordingly.

Consecutive matches should not follow on adjacent pitches as this could mean using a strip which may be damaged from the bowlers run-off from the previous match. The two outside pitches are often reserved for junior games or practice/artificial pitches.

For the remaining pre-match days during the course of preparation, mow every day, or at least every other day, between the popping creases and, in cricket verticut combination with light scarification/brushing, progressively lower the cylinder to the desired height of cut (typically between 3-5mm), or as low as possible without scalping and ensuring the surface is not scarred or disturbed in any way.

For first-class pitches, this should, ideally, commence at least 10-14 days prior to the match or, in the case of clubs, schools etc a minimum of five days before the match. Generally, most squares are maintained at a height of cut ranging between 12-15mm all year round

Days Description of Work
1String out pitch lines to ensure correct width, 10 ft; mow out at 8mm. Always double mow (up and down the same line), using an 8 bladed pedestrian cylinder mower for maintaining the square. Test the pitch with a key or knife for moisture. Water the pitch thoroughly in the event that the pitch has dried out through pre-season rolling.

2Brush / light rake, mow at 8mm, light roll to consolidate surface levels.
3Power scarify or verticut to remove lateral growth and surface thatch avoiding deep surface disturbance. Mow at 7mm. Remove clippings, continue medium light rolling 1000kg 10-15 minutes.
4Test for moisture. Roll pitch increasing to consolidate surface with 1000kg roller if available.
5Scarify with hand rake to remove any surface thatch build up Set and mow at 6mm. roll.
6Light scarify (lawn rake) to lift sward, mow, roll 20-30 minutes.
7Light scarify by hand, mow at 6mm, increase weight of roller to 1500- 1700kg continue rolling 30 minutes reducing speed to consolidate surface. Test for consolidation with key or knife for placidity.
8Continue to mow and rolling at slow speed to achieve consolidation. Cover pitch overnight to encourage moisture to rise to surface.
9Brush / rake lifting any lateral grasses, reduce mower (with a shaver blade) to 4mm, try to avoid scalping. Roll using heavy roller slow speed (slow) morning and again late afternoon where possible. Cover pitch overnight if you have covers?
10Brush and mow pitch, roll morning and afternoon slow as possible (slow).
11Brush, mow and roll to polish surface, test bounce with an old ball along edge of pitch. Continue rolling to consolidate surface. Cover pitch overnight if you have covers?
12Brush, mow and roll polish up pitch. Your pitch should effectively have taken on a straw like colouration, a sign that preparation has been achieved.
Morning of the match On the morning of the match, start early and brush, close mow and roll (typically for around 15-20 minutes). Finally, if not done the previous day, mark out the creases on the pitch, clearly, accurately and neatly with lines not more than 25mm wide nor less than 12mm using string lines or a marking frame if available
Finally, before setting the stumps in the correct positions on the crease, place a little water in the stump holes. This will ensure that the stumps remain firmly in place for the duration of the game.

A well-prepared wicket will usually facilitate three to four matches before needing to be repaired, after match wicket repairs begin with the brushing and sweeping up of any surface debris, soaking the wicket, scarifying, spiking, topdressing and overseeding. Additional work may be required to repair damage to foot holes. It is important to carry out good repairs, as you may be required to use this wicket again later on in the season.

 

Written by Lawrence Gale