As a groundsman you want to prepare pitches that give a good game of cricket. Pitches that allow batsmen to play their shots with confidence and pitches that give a little to the bowler (but not too much as I am a batsman at heart!). In a 45 over game I hope that a team will score 180 or more runs and no batsman will leave the field cursing the pitch.
Pitch number 3 on Saturday did just what I was hoping from it. The game was decided by the by just one run with the visitors not quite matching the home side's 193. Early on there was something in it for the bowlers but they toiled as the day went on. If the opposition don't score the pitch highly I will be very disappointed.
The grass is growing rapidly now and starting to push up its seed heads. If I don't keep on top of the mowing the seed heads get so long that the cylinder mower won't cut them and the only way to get rid of them is to use a rotary mower.
So this morning, after a session on the allotment planting main crop carrots, I gave the pitch we used on Saturday and the square a good cut. It looked good when finished.
Saturday's pitch had some foot hole damage and also some damage where the batsmen insisted in gouging out their batting marks.
The amount of damage usually reflects how much loam I have used in previous years to repair pitches. The opposition had a lot of left hand bowlers so they were creating foot holes where there had not been damage before and so the loam content was low.
So, for the first time this season, I set about some repair work.
Firstly the holes were swept of any loose soil, then the holes moistened to act as a glue for the new loam. The new loam was then moistened until it stuck together when squeezed in the hand - the washing-up bowl is ideal for this.
The loam is then added to the hole, as high above the surface as the hole is deep to allow for compaction as I tamper it.
An old plastic bag is used to stop the damp loam sticking to the tamper.
With some good tampering the job is a good one.
All that remains is to cover the repairs with some grass cuttings to stop the repair drying out too quickly and cracking.
I noticed as I was doing the repair that the contractor who did the end of season work, used a different loam, Super Essex, when we have used Ongar over the years. Ideally you should use the same loam year after year or you run the risk of building up layers of different loam. This is something that I will need to talk to the contractor about before he does the work at the end of the current season.