Ever wondered what goes on in terms of the ground preparations?
Well, here’s your chance to be educated on all things wickets – and outfields as BCC head of ground staff Gary Newall writes….
That shed at the bottom of the field.
So far this year there have been many fingers that have touched the Kensham Park grass and many hours spent tidying the perimeter, pre-season rolling, cutting the long winter grass and fixing broken machinery to name a few tasks. Thanks to all those fingers and the bodies they are attached to without their hard work in March and April my job as Groundsman would be impossible.
Pre-season March/April tasks:
First task was to find the 4 corners of the square!!!! I knocked in metal stakes at the end of last season but the grass and earth had grown over them and it was now like trying to find a needle in a haystack, also not helped by the fact that the square been cut by the outfield mower which had removed any definition of where the square used to be.
So off to Argos to buy a child’s metal detector – after testing at home in the garden this could actually work – so off up to the club, but alas nothing not a single beep.
Then after an hour of digging, scraping and prodding I get a beep and retrieve one of the stakes. I only need to find one more so I can bring in my friend Pythagoras (3-4-5) to the finish the job. Anyway two more found, sorted. 11 strips (110ft) by 1 chain (66ft) marked out and ready to go.
Next I cut the square with the rotary mower slowly bringing the height down to about 20mm over a number of cuts. The grass plant can go into shock if you hack it down in one go and it will turn yellow and stressed (yes grass does have feelings).
PSR (Pre-Season Rolling) after a winter of rain and frost the square needs to be re-compacted. I start with a light roll (even just using the weight of the cylinder mower) and over time bring this up to a fully ballasted heavy roller (our Poweroll is nearly 2 tonne). This increase in roller weight will mean the square is compacted to a decent depth rather than just the top inch or two (hopefully giving good bounce and carry). The Total PSR time can be 10-15 hours and it gets bloody freezing perched on the roller in the howling wind. As you can tell it’s not my favourite job but saves rolling time during the playing season.
I then scarify the square using the verticut unit we have on our very old, but very reliable Dennis FT510 mower. This works like a superfast rake and cleans out the dead grass, slices up any lateral growing meadow grass and stands up the leaf which aids growth and allows a nice clean cut.
A spring fertilizer was then applied just to give the grass a boost after the cold winter.
Using the cylinder square mower we will then trim the square to 15-18mm and its rear roller gives it that lovely striped affect.
Pitch preparation for the first game: