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Simon enjoying the tropical conditions of the marquee

At this time of the year, Head Groundsman Simon Lee is either on holiday or working outside under a suitable number of layers to keep out the cold.

However, this year all of that has changed and Simon is spending his time preparing the wickets in the marquee that has been erected on the Somerset Stand side of the Cooper Associates County Ground.

We ventured over to the marquee earlier this week to get his views. “The preparation all seems to be going pretty well,” he said. “It’s been a pretty steep learning curve for me but I’ve talked to a lot of the people on the circuit who have had marquees before. I’ve tried to take the best bits of advice from everyone and implement it here at Taunton.

“We started working on the preparations back in January before the marquee went up. We started to cover up to make sure that the top was dry and hard so that when the guys were coming in to put it up it didn’t cause a mess, which thankfully it didn’t.

“Since then it has just been a process of trying to get it drier before building up the rolling and then maintaining it as we would outdoors in the summer.

“I would normally be on my holidays, so this year the season is going to be a little bit longer, but I’m enjoying it and it’s a brand new experience.

“I think that it will look really good when the guys are in here working. They will all enjoy it and it makes our job a little bit easier knowing that they are enjoying something that we’ve have done.”

“The side of the square that we’ve got the marquee on is the side that we used last in the season, so it’s had a really short turn around with only a few weeks of growing before we have got back on to it. However, everything has come through the winter really well and its all looking healthy.

“We’ve got five pitches and by juggling things around we can probably get as many as 15 pitches over the period we are out here.

“The boys will be out here for the first time on February 19th and it will be a slow build up. Then we will see how it goes in the morning and get the bowlers in to stretch their legs and get used to it and then the batters will come in for the afternoon.

“As we get closer to the pre-season friendly matches we will also build up inside here as well.”

Initially Simon had reservations about the marquee as he explained.

“I must admit that I was a bit sceptical to begin with and to be fair we have always been able to get outside quite early at Taunton, but we could never be outside in the middle of February. I’ve enjoyed the process and when you are inside you realize what an amazing facility it really is and the infrastructure of it is quite impressive. It’s also a really nice place to be working when it’s only about five degrees outside whilst its 25 degrees inside!

“The marquee itself is 15 metres wide and 50 metres long and we measured the length to make sure that Jamie Overton can get his full run up in!

“I cant wait to see the boys working inside here, however the only trouble with that is that I will then have to go back to working outside in the cold!”

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