Question and Answer : Pitches

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Q: A few years ago I took over my local Club to stop it folding. Having never prepared a wicket before it was quite an initiation! I can now prepare a decent wicket, but I am having problems with bounce. Having just rolled the pitch there is a very obvious sponginess on the top when pressed, this is taking the pace off the ball and I need to find out how to remedy this. It would appear just to be the top cm or so. Is there any advice that you could give me?

A: This characteristic is almost certainly down to thatch – a build up over time of dead organic matter on the surface which acts as a shock absorber to the impact of the ball. Pitches with this condition generally play better with a little moisture in the surface, still low and slow but even performance rating, as to when really dry the ball can often “bite” into the top with the resultant indifferent bounce/turn.

Unfortunately the only feasible time of the year to attempt to rectify this problem is autumn post-season. There are various machinery available to remove some or all and will depend on identifying the depth of offending organic content and financial resources available.

For more detailed information download the relevant chapter from the ECB TS4 document or contact your local Pitch Advisor.

Q: We want to build some new outdoor practise nets asap. We cannot afford to contract this out and wish to put down mats onto a none concrete surface. Brixham CC have just had this done professionally and the base is built up with 4 different types of hardcore. Do you know where we can obtain the spec that would incude the details of grades of stone and the recommended depth of each in order for us to build this ourselves. Kind regards David Ashworth Abbottskerswell Devon

A: Think you need to contact our Facilities and Funding unit who will be able to help you further

Q: I have been asked by my cricket clubs grounds man (who’s not PC literate) to access information on removal of moss from cricket pitches. At Bronze Cricket Club in the West Midlands we have gradually had moss cover our entire square. Our pitch is similar in size and drop of Lords, and the moss infestation started at the highest part of the square, and has moved down over the years. Our grounds man has used various moss killers with basically no success. The areas have gone black, but even with vigorous scarification it doesn’t seem to move it. So do you have a preferred treatment for moss removal, and is it a coincidence that the moss seemed to take root when we dropped in an artificial wicket at the top of the square? I hope you can help because we have historically supplied quick pitches that take turn from July onwards, but the moss is making it slow and low all year round. Regards Tony Forrester Secretary Bronze CC

A: Dear Tony,

Many sympathies towards the moss problem your club and groundsman are encountering on the square especially in light of the stated quick pitches previously enjoyed.

Before tackling eradication one must understand the nature of moss which is symptomatic of other underlying causes. They are symptoms of poor grass growth and not the cause.

Moss is a primitive non-flowering plant with no root system and is totally reliant on moisture being present to survive and proliferate. There are three main types of moss found in fine turf, cushion, trailing & upright. In the environment of consolidated, clay cricket pitches the cushion type is the most prevalent and is usually indicative of the following:-

Bare areas of soil with no competition from grass plants,
Mower scalping,
Poorly drained and compacted soil,
Nutrient deprived,
Shade,
Acidic soil conditions

As cricket squares are poorly drained and consolidated anyway, from experience the causes are usually associated with high organic content within the surface (thus holding the essential surface moisture for the moss to get a hold) thin grass cover and lack of nutrients. This often comes as a surprise to many clubs who insist that adequate autumn scarification has been undertaken only to find that a soil profile analysis (by a qualified expert) identifies the presence within the immediate surface. This in turn lends towards slower lower performing pitches.

The fact that you have a considerable slope should shed access rainfall especially during winter months. The NTP at the top of the square could harbour the spores that transfer down the table and the aforementioned conditions allow rapid infestation.

Traditionally Dichlorophen based products were the most effective moss killer but have been withdrawn through legislation. Sulphate of Iron is very effective at killing the adult plant and relatively cost effective. The resultant blackened dead moss needs to be scarified out and removed otherwise it will add to the organic content within the surface. There is a new weed / moss killer on the market using Carfentrazone-ethyl as the moss killer component.

Hope this information is of assistance and would underline correct cultural practices preventing the moss infestation in the first instance and recommend contacting your County Pitch Advisor for a profile reading to identify the cause.

Q: how do you mark a pitch ?

A: Please see the details in Law 7 of the Laws of Cricket on the MCC's website

Q: Can you clarify the ODI pitch marking measurement from the centre stump for wide deliveries please?

A: All in accordance with Law 25 of the Laws except where there is additional/different application of the Law in specific competition regulations - see First Class Regulations and Playing Conditions 2008 for further details

Q: My clubs twin drum sit on roller has recently died and we're looking to get a new one. We've found one, but the vibrate function doesn't work. One of our groundsmen says that we shouldn't vibratre anyway as this breaks up the soils structure. The other says that the vibrate function would do wonders for our wickets. Who is right?

A: Technically speaking both could be right but would depend on the conditions of the underlying profile of the square from the surface to at least 100-125mm depth.

It is generally regarded that the vibratory function greatly increases the ground pressure (think of the same function on a hammer drill in concrete) therefore could seriously compromise the structure of the soil profile by increasing the bulk density (& relative compaction) to the point where healthy roots would give up the ghost as impenetrable. The result could well be poor grass cover/health and lifeless pitches.

Also the lower rootzone could be destabilised if it is dry and “crumbly” with a possible result of uneven and unpredictable bounce.

The only consideration for usage of the vibratory function would be if the underlying soil profile is of a good and consistent depth of loam but very poor consolidation due possibly to overlying heavy thatch absorbing the rolling factor or the roller used has been too light to be effective. These factors should be determined by experts before resorting to action.

Therefore, would not recommend usage of the vibratory function until such advice has been undertaken from examination of the profile of the square/pitches.

(STRI, Cranfield University Soil Science Dept, Turftrax or Total Turf Solutions Ltd could offer such scientific advice.)

Q: whats the easyist way to make a pitcch

A: that's a very hard question to answer simply, without knowing more about the location etc. please see our Groundsmanship section for some background information and further contacts

Q: How is a reel pitch made?

A: Hi - best to see our Groundsmanship section for more info

Q: Are there any guidelines for 'non-premier league' overall boundary sizes? For premier standard we understand it is between 50-90 yards from the middle stump but what about amateur/school/u18 etc...?

A: We do have boundary size recommendations in our non-first class regulations. The size of the boundary, measured from the middle of the pitch (minimum and maximum):

All adult matches: 55m/70m
U17 matches: 50m/70m
U15: 35m/65m
U13: 30m/55m

Q: Cricket Practice Areas - We have been asked to specify practice areas for club/recreational use and are having difficulty understanding the area/dimension requirements for such. We require two practice areas side by side, and cannot find any information regarding this in the 'performance standards for non-turf cricket pitches intended for outdoor use' or any other publication. We propose to have a synthetic turf surface with cages and net. Could you please provide some further guidance, with particular reference tot eh min dimensions for net/cages clearance distances.

A: Would suggest you contact our Facilities and Funding unit on facilities@ecb.co.uk and they should be able to help you in more detail