The Victorian Sports Turf Association (STA) held a special Pitch Preparation info day this week at Flack Park in Melbourne.
The event was ideal for anyone involved in the seasonal task of building, preparing and maintaining a quality cricket pitch.
Sponsored by Cricket Victoria and Mentay, and lead by John Shannon and the Melbourne Grammar School Grounds Staff, the day saw an impressive turn out of nearly 100 guests, which included young apprentices, experienced groundsmen and volunteer staff from regional Victorian cricket clubs.
The day kicked off with guests splitting into two groups to learn the foundational aspects of preparing a pitch. Despite the varying levels of experience amongst guests, there was still something for everyone.
One pitch focused on the basic introductory methods such as pitch selection and rotation, measuring out the wicket and string lining, which was perfect for volunteer staff and young apprentices.
The second pitch was for more seasonal staff to learn some more intermediate methods, while refreshing some old skills.
Unfortunately soon after, the weather started to turn, throwing a small spanner into the works of an outdoor demonstration day.
However, Shannon and his team persevered on through the outdoor group tasks. Guests would head for cover and extended tea breaks when it got a bit too wet; much like an actual cricket match in changeable weather!
Guests rotated around the pitch now in smaller groups, to take part in activities including Soaka Hose use, repairing damaged ends of the pitch, nutrition and fertiliser for pitches, sprigging, seeding, sodding, watering and assessing a pitch.
After the smaller demonstrations, guests were then split up once more to have a hands-on look at grassing up a pitch and the use of rollers and wicket mowers.
Guests tried the wicket mowers, provided by Mow Master, while Mentay gave guests a guided turn on their Rollers.
After breaking for lunch to everyone’s surprise, a clear sunny day started to peak through the grey cloud cover.
Guests split up for final looks at the pitch rollers and mowers, and then moved onto demonstrations on growth cloths and covers, setting mower height for your pitch, and John Shannon’s top tips for winding up hoses without tangles.
The final part of the day was spent talking about post-pitch maintenance as a group, before John Shannon and Chris Cay from Frankston City Council gave an in-depth demonstration to guests on marking up a pitch using a marking frame, wicket stencil and stump marker.
STA Vic’s Pitch Preparation Day was another successful event by the committee, even with the unlucky weather conditions.
We hope to see more events like this take place, especially for regional areas of Victoria.
Stay tuned for turfmate’s instructional video on Pitch Preparation from the day!