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IOG technical turf consultant Alex Vickers, offers helpful advice to cricket groundsman trying to make up for lost time.

“Rolling on a river…”

The words from Tina Turner’s song have come to mind as I have mournfully looked out to our wicket considering what to do. If, like me, you have watched your ground get wet, then wetter and finally disappear under a sea of water over the past few months, you have probably wondered whether it will ever get sunny again.

Well, the sun is out at least, but how do you make up for all that lost time with the cricket season imminent and players straining at the leash to get out and enjoy the sudden hot weather? In practice, those lost weeks cannot be made up for in a few hot and sunny days. The outfields still need to dry and be cut properly, the square needs to be cut, rolled, sprayed and all the moss that has grown in the wet, cold, March needs removing. The risk is that we try to do all those things at once, attempting to make up for the lost time in a frenzy of activity. Please don’t try to do this – at best you will be wasting fuel and time, at worst, you may damage your square.

Some sensible leagues have cancelled the first round of games and hopefully clubs and captains will remember the bad weather and understand that the grounds need time to catch up – my square and most other clubs I know are anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks behind where they usually are by now. If its similar for you what should you do? How can you catch up and what short-cuts are there?

There are a few things you can do to save time and bring your square on without doing damage – and though I am sure all our pitches will be a bit slow and low for the first few games even if we do everything right, the good news is the pitches will quickly improve.

7 corkers to help you get the game on

The first place to start is rolling. Despite the publication of the Cranfield Rolling Research(1) I remain convinced many groundstaff still roll squares too much so this is the place to save some time. Consider the following:

Help your groundsman

A final plea goes to club captains, fixture secretaries, chairs and umpires. This has been a very wet late winter and spring (as bad as I can remember). It has been very cold and opportunities to work on the ground without damaging it have been very few. Grass has only just started growing properly in the last 2 weeks. Please use your brains! If you need to lose a match or two then be brave enough to make the tough choice – you will get better pitches later and ultimately will get more play from your square overall. Umpires, if you are assessing pitches then don’t do it in a vacuum – remember the weather and take that into account. Pitches should never be dangerous but as long as they are safe that is achievement enough this spring. If a pitch is dangerous then blame the captain for not cancelling the game, not the groundsman!

Good luck and a heart-felt well done from me and the IOG – this spring has been a real nightmare so well done for keeping going in terrible weather and I hope you have an excellent season.