Academic prowess aside, at Merchant Taylors’ School there is a huge emphasis on sport and the success of its sporting teams is testament to this. Cricket at Merchant Taylors’ is exceptionally strong and just last year the school won the national under 17’s cricket competition - which was an outstanding achievement for a day school.
To date there are currently 17 competitive teams throughout the school who enjoy playing the game across 12 grass cricket squares, indoor and outdoor (all weather) nets, grass nets, and 3 bowling machines. Such is the quality of the cricket facilities that Middlesex County Cricket Club train regularly at the school and use it as a pre-season training camp. The Australian cricket team also trained at the school in preparation for their Ashes tours of 2013 and 2015.
“I think the work we do with Middlesex County Cricket Club, and the teams we have hosted, only benefits the school because of our need to be at the top of our game,” says grounds manager Richard Ayling. “If you are going to host these kind of top sportsmen you have to be in a position to provide the very best surfaces for them. They wouldn’t come here unless they were right and that is, I believe, a reflection on the work carried out by my team.”
Richard and his team of ten have exceptionally high standards and never rest on their laurels despite a hectic work schedule.
“I like to think that all of our sports surfaces are good but we are always striving for that bit more,” he says. “I have a great deputy in Scott Patterson who was the former head groundsman at the Oval and he has really pushed the cricket on.
“The twelve squares are used every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and we are actually one of the few schools that has started playing cricket throughout September whereas most schools would be moving to just rugby and football.”
As a result, Richard invested in a range of heavy duty SISIS scarifiers – two self-propelled Auto Rotorake MK.5’s and a tractor mounted Rotorake TM1000.
The SISIS Rotorake TM1000 is a tractor mounted heavy duty scarifier and linear aerator and is un-rivalled when it comes to removing and controlling thatch. It includes a collector box and floating unit to follow ground contours and its contra-rotating reel throws debris forward ensuring a clean, consistent groove resulting in an excellent finish when the time comes to scarify. With interchangeable blades and a quick, simple depth setting without tools, Richard has been quick to notice the benefits.
“The TM1000 is predominantly our main cricket scarifier and the ability to change blades is very convenient. With all of the cricket squares and grass nets there is a lot of scarifying to do and the TM1000 serves us incredibly well. It sits nicely behind our tractor, is a solid piece of machinery, collects well and does exactly what it says it will.”
Over recent years Richard has been a big fan of the Auto Rotorake MK.5 and the two new machines were brought in as direct replacements for two older machines. It is perfectly suited to a range of applications from sports field maintenance to synthetic turf maintenance, lawns and amenities. Its contra-rotating reel has specially designed tipped blades for clean, consistent cut and maximum thatch removal. Furthermore the Auto Rotorake MK.5 features a selection of seven different interchangeable reels which enables the machine to carry out a variety of maintenance tasks.
“The Auto Rotorake MK.5 is the perfect sized machine for us and we predominantly use it for cricket pitch preparation and also on the smaller school lawns for scarifying.
“We use the Brush Reel, Scarifying Reel, Verti-Cutter Reel and we like the Spring Tine Reel. We use this reel, not for scarifying, but more for standing up the grasses. It’s great for thinning the grass out, gently cleaning the surface and for a general tidy up on the wickets.”
“The staff use the Auto Rotorake MK.5’s a lot and I have the confidence to let them have their own say on preparations. Therefore, everyone has their own little quirks on how they like to do things and the Auto Rotorake MK.5 gives them the versatility to do so.”
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