Pitch Advisers Visits 2015
Pitch advisers visits

On the 7th of January county pitch advisers Charlie Woolnough and Kevin Byrne spent the day visiting 4 clubs who had experienced low umpire marks during the 2014 season. The purpose of the visits was to touch base with representatives from the clubs, in particular the grounds man, to discuss the current state of the squares and offer advice on improvements.

We were warmly received at all clubs and were both in agreement that the day had been a major success in firstly making an initial contact, and secondly ensuring the clubs that help is available

Charlie with representatives from Plympton CC.



After taking cores from the squares, we were able to look for problems such as thatch layers, breaks in the profile, weak rooting and insufficient cricket loam. A common theme we observed was the underlying natural soil breaking away from the cricket loam. To remedy this we were able to suggest the use of tractor mounted deep aeration equipment that can tine to a minimum of 250mm and when completed at 50mm centres promotes strong rooting that ties the soils together. Early autumn is the time to have this done when there is sufficient moisture in the square for penetration and while there is still warmth in the soil for root growth. We discussed some other minor surface problems with the clubs but otherwise thought the squares were in good condition for the time of year.

Other topics of discussion were based around funding, budgeting and the need to carry out the right practices at the right time. Several club members showed an interest in attending grounds man workshops and courses to improve their knowledge.


The unique setting of Plymouth CC


Over the course of the day there was lots of discussion concerning the umpires marking scheme.

I have nothing but total respect for volunteer grounds men and club members who work tirelessly to provide wickets for their clubs. We are a passionate bunch and I know from personal experience that any form of criticism hurts. However there are many reasons surrounding why a pitch can fail to meet the required standard which are not necessarily the fault of the grounds staff. Any club worried or concerned about the quality of their squares can seek advice from their area pitch advisor, details of which are on the website.

Best wishes for the 2015 season which isn’t that far away; get your roller warmed up!!


Kevin Byrne Exeter University

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