Busy close season for Somerset ground staff
It may well be the end of the cricket season but for Somerset head groundsman Simon Lee and his team this winter is going to be a pretty busy time at the County Ground.
Although the dust has barely settled from the last game of the season, Simon outlines that his job is only just beginning: “There’s a lot to do,” he said. “As well as our usual end of season renovations out on the square, scarifying down, re-seeding and top dressing with new soil to get the grass to grow, the outfield is also getting its entire drainage and irrigation system put in place.”
Talking about the summer overall Simon said: “Pitch wise it’s been really good and we have had great direction from Matt Maynard right from the start. He has been consistent in what he has wanted which was to get results and that’s great for me.
“The one day pitches were just superb and getting Chris Gayle batting on them and seeing the way he played was really nice. You want to see guys show what they can do with their talents, so we have had a really good year and its almost a shame that its over, but its nice to get a break.”
The head groundsman gave a little more detail regarding the drainage and irrigation work which is due to get underway this week. “The ECB have given us a grant because we are going to be Category B status for One-Day Internationals,” he said. “With that we are able to install drainage across the whole field. A trench is dug and a tube is put in the ground so that water can flow into that tube and around it to a tank. Secondly we have the irrigation system to go with it because the drain lines are filled with a more sandy soil and the water can get through.
“Obviously the irrigation is needed to ensure that the grass grows as well in those sandy soils as in our native soil which is already on site.”
Talking about a time scale for the work the head groundsman said: “The weather is very good at the moment so hopefully we can get off to a good start. Fingers crossed it should be six weeks of man hours to get that done. Sadly if it rains we are unlikely to get it done because we will do too much damage to the soil. If we can get it all done by late November or early December then we will be happy because we have got the rest of the winter to make sure that grass grows in the drain lines ready for next season.
So what is actually going to happen? “The trenches will be dug by a machine to a set depth of one metre 50 centimetres, one metre 80 apart,” he said. “So across the whole field we will get approximately 100 trenches which covers the whole area and ensures we get an even drainage. It takes so long because it is such a precise job.”
He added: “The contrators we have got in to do the job are M J Abbot from Salisbury who have done work at the Ageas Bowl and at Ascot Racecourse. They are a very good company and we have got good weather so things should run fairly smoothly.”