March - An Important Month For Your Cricket Square
Before going into specifics it really is key to point out that every square is different and it is not a one size fits all. Both actions required and the timings of those actions will differ given the different characteristics of squares and also your location and weather differences!
Many of you will have been working on your squares for some weeks now but for some clubs where weather has had other ideas their groundsman will be stepping onto them for the first time.
Before you put a machine onto your square give it a walk over and thorough check for any worm casts that need breaking up so they don’t get smeared by the cylinder mower. The best time to do this is when they are fairly dry using something like a spring bok rake to break them up so the surface is levelled once removed.
A little seed might need to be over sown on any big cast areas where the grass has been suppressed and given up. Also pick up any debris that might damage the mower blades.
If the grass has got a little long then run a rotary mower over it to bring the height down to about an inch/just under, ensuring the rotary mower has a sharp blade and box attached to collect the clippings. This will also hoover up any leaves or other debris on the square.
Then cut the square with your cylinder mower with a height of cut around 12-15 mm depending on the temperatures and how long it is until your first fixture.
Next, locate your square’s corner markers if you have them, which will make squaring and marking your individual pitches a lot quicker and easier. If you don’t have corner makers then using Plifix Markers or pieces of wood such as cut offs from cricket stumps, or metal plates all do a great job.
Then get your 60 metre tape measures out (four if possible to make the job easier), strings and pegs and use the 3,4,5 method to mark out your square’s pitches.
Rather than explain it and go on for pages the video below gives a great demonstration by ECB Pitch Advisor Chris Wood along with a guide to pre-season rolling and the conditions it should be done in.
Next consideration is does your square need a feed? The date of the last feed and its colour will always answer your question. If it looks hungry then feed it. Either an Autumn/Winter mix (5-5-10 +5Fe for example) or if temperatures and growth are properly on the up then the first Spring Summer mix (12-0-9 for example) might be appropriate later in the month.
Do you have any moss on the square that needs some iron to deal with it? You can spray iron sulphate, use a granular iron laced fertiliser or on a tight club budget even lawn sand can be used providing it is spread evenly on the surface.
Once your square is cut to the desired height and looking healthy and active then it’s time for getting those headphones on and start rolling.
When the conditions are right using “the rule of thumb” you can start pre-season rolling. I use the union jack formation starting across the square followed by two diagonal passes finishing in the way of play. This is then repeated where necessary until the square is consolidated as desired.
I usually do one or two passes and then leave it a few days for the square to naturally spring back a little (see the ECB Cranfield Rolling report for more specific information - before continuing with the next passes until you are satisfied with your level of consolidation.
Don’t be in a rush to get all your rolling done in one go or on consecutive days. Use all the time you have available before the first pitch is due for preparation to get it done, leaving time between each session, especially where the weather intervenes half way through!
So happy rolling, enjoy your music, podcasts or audio books and don’t fall asleep in the sunshine!
© Cricket World 2015