The aim for a successful cricket pitch is to maintain a pest, weed and disease free playing surface that allows a true playing surface that has no bounce nor deviation of the ball.
Cricket pitch maintenance is made up of three parts; the wicket, the square and the outfield. The cricket table requires fine turf maintenance and is used to support the wickets. The table is often slightly raised to allow free draining of area and should be kept free of all weed and undesirable grasses so that only fine grasses remain in the sward.
Wickets are mown in the cricket table to allow play. The grass wickets are mown very short into the square and it is the roots of the grass that holds the soil together.
The outfield should provide an even gradient with no undulations or potholes, so that the ball will run true and evenly. The density and length of the grass should not prevent the ball travelling at a fast pace over the turf and the outfield should be kept clear of disease and pests, where possible.
The cricket playing season is from April to September, with the off-season being between October and February.
Keep the Table free of morning dew, worm casts and other such debris by switching the table. Box mow the grass with a pedestrian operated cylinder mower (with no less than ten blades per cutting reel) and collect the arisings. The direction of the cut shall be changed by rotating 45o clockwise after each mowing operation. Do not carry out any operations during periods of frost.
Maintain the Table at a height of between 10 mm and 20 mm. By the second week of April, gradually reduce the height of the cut to 10mm. During the playing season (April to September) maintain the grass to a height of between 10 mm and 15 mm, and to a height of between 20 mm to 25 mm during the off-season October to February. Keep the Table is kept free of weeds, both perennial and annual, and moss by both chemical and cultural operations.
'Square' the Table during April with corner pegs. Roll the square in all directions to achieve a firm, true and safe surface with a ride on motorised roller, weighing between 2 and 3 tonnes.
Throughout March and April carry out scarification operations to remove all thatch, fibre moss and other deleterious materials. Apply a Spring/Summer fine turf fertiliser in March and April at the rate of 35gm per square metre and having an N:P:K ratio of approximately 14:2:4. Do not apply the fertiliser in windy conditions or in periods of drought. Application should preferably be made when rainfall is imminent, to prevent scorching to the sward. Irrigate the Table must be irrigated after application to a depth of 50mm. At regular intervals during the playing season, irrigate the Table.
In addition ensure that the cricket outfields are cut once per week and that these regular cuts are carried out at a maximum height of 20 mm during the playing season and between 25 mm and 35 mm off season.
Aerate the outfield in March, April, October, November, December, January and February using slit tines penetrating to a minimum depth of 100mm. Carry out weed control to ensure the outfield is 95% weed free at all times.
During the first week in April, identify and set out the boundary at a distance from the centre of the Table. Mark the boundary line with non-toxic whiting compound, the width of the line should not exceed 25mm. The boundary line shall be regularly overmarked during the playing season.
Prior to a match carry out an inspection of the square and clearance of all litter debris and other deleterious matter. Ensure all cut pitch areas are neat and straight edges to the surrounding Table. Cut the pitch with a 20" pedestrian cylinder mower to the height of 5 mm. The pitch should be double mown along the first cut to avoid a striped effect. Following completion of the mowing scarify the pitch along the line of play using a boxed scarifier, ensuring that all arisings are removed. Roll the pitch to create a firm true surface.
End of season repairs (October)
Aerate the pitch and fork all hollows, ensuring no disturbance to the pitch base more than 50mm deep and reinstate to the correct levels with a sterilised medium cricket loam. Ensure consolidation of levels by light pressure and luting to provide a seed bed.
Sow an approved cricket grass seed mix at a rate of 50 grams/square metre. Water regularly to ensure establishment.
After the aeration and over seeding operations detailed above have been carried out, apply a topdressing to the Table in order to improve the soil structure, extend the playing life of the sward and produce a uniform playing surface. Use Screened Mendip Loam topdressing applied at the rate of 3kg per square metre when solid tined to 75mm. An even spread of the material should be achieved. Immediately after spreading the material, work the topdressing into the surface of the Table using a drag mat, lute or drag brush working in transverse directions with all holes filled with the dressing and achieving a true playing surface.
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