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Examining cricket wicket maintenance at Ellesmere College

In July 2022, Germinal amenity grass expert Alex Beesley visited Ellesmere College’s head groundsman, Ian Morris, to discuss cricket wicket maintenance.

cricket wicket maintenance - ellesmere college Ian began working at Ellesmere College in 1977. As part of his training, he enrolled on groundskeeping courses at Reaseheath College. Since starting as a junior groundsman, Ian has worked his way up over the years to become Ellesmere’s head groundsman.

Bringing the top square out of winter

For the current season, Ian estimates that 60 games will be played on the top square. “But this varies each season, based on cup cricket and outside teams using the square,” Ian explains.

When bringing his top square out of winter, Ian likes to start work in February or early March, depending on the weather. cricket wicket maintenance - ellesmere college - wicket shot Alex also found out that Ian refrains from heavy scarification at this time and instead prefers to use verti-cutter brush reels to prepare.

Cutting heights

Ahead of a match, Ian mows the wickets to a cutting height of 3 mm before rolling. As for the outfield, he maintains a taller cutting height of 12 mm.

Renovation during the season

Alex also asked about Ian’s post-match renovation process, which entails cleaning out with heavy brushing. Discussing fertiliser, Ian revealed he usually applies this during the half-term week when the pitch is not used.

In the outfield, regular mowing with a rotary and cylinder is performed throughout the season, with slitting needed in wet conditions. cricket wicket maintenance - ellesmere college

End-of-season cricket wicket maintenance

“Our end-of-season renovation is weather dependent. We spike to 100 mm and then scarify four ways. We then spike to 25 mm, apply pre-seed fertiliser, top dress and then drag mat and brush.”

Alex also asked about the outfield, with Ian outlining a simpler process entailing slitting, spiking and mowing. To compress new germination growth before winter, Ian typically rolls the surface once or twice.

Perennial ryegrass

When selecting grass seed for cricket wickets, Ian favours ryegrass and uses Germinal Amenity’s A5 mixture. This consists of 65% Cabrio Ultra Fine perennial ryegrass and 35% Escapade perennial ryegrass. When it comes to the outfield, Ian also uses ryegrass. cricket wicket maintenance - ellesmere college - grass close-up Notably, Carbio Ultra Fine ryegrass topped the 2022 BSPB list for summer sports, helping to make the A5 grass seed mix suitable for cricket wickets, tennis courts and golf tees. When seeding his cricket pitch, Ian uses a tractor-mounter dimple seeder.

Final thoughts

Compared to football and rugby pitches, Ian finds cricket wicket maintenance much more labour intensive. Ian also faces the challenge of the cricket outfields being used for multiple purposes.

“Our outfields are all used for rugby and football, so are maintained all year round,” he explains.

Click here for more information on A5 and our other cricket grass seed mixtures.