The Groundsman: Pulling together (safely) when the going's tough…

In his latest groundcare column, David Bates, former first-class groundsman and MD at cricket pitch expert total-play Ltd, shares his advice for those volunteering to support their clubs during the pandemic – and beyond…


While there is light at the end of the tunnel, there’s still a way to go before we return to ‘normality’ – but if there’s one positive thing to come out of this pandemic, it’s the feeling that everyone is pulling together and helping each other out. 

No more so than volunteers at grassroots cricket clubs, where inexperienced members may be helping to take the pressure off regular ground care teams shielding or self-isolating. First and foremost, it’s important to think about health and safety when bringing new people into a working environment - albeit on a voluntary basis. 

The first thing I would advise any new amateur groundsman is get good understanding of the basics. The Grounds Management Association (formerly the Institute of Groundsmen) holds regular, on-location training courses for all levels of experience, and attendance would stand them in great stead for working within a cricket facility. 

Over the course of the winter we have a few jobs on the grounds management list; mainly from the infrastructure side to ensure that the ground and its equipment is safe and doesn’t incur any damage over the winter months. 

Be mindful of sightscreens blowing over in high winds and potential damage to flat sheet covers due to wind or pests getting in and chewing them up. Careful storage can avoid both these issues. 

Now is also the time to make sure that all the machinery is working correctly. Pay attention to your mowers and, if blades need sharpening, send them off now so they’re back in time for the first mow of the season. 

When it comes to looking after the ground the square needs to be a manageable height – typically about an inch – over the winter period, and roughly an inch over for the outfield. It’s important to walk over the ground from time to time it to make sure that there’s been no damage by third parties and also keep an eye on the health of the grass plant. 

The main problem at this time of year is worms, so try to knock off and disperse any worm casts when they arise – prevention is always better than cure! 

Have a safe and happy winter break, and let’s all look forward to warm days and cricket being played in full next summer.

Got a question for our expert groundsman? Let us know at

During his residency at Northants CCC, David Bates gained a reputation for preparing some of the finest pitches in the country. Having worked as a pitch advisor and trainer for the IoG David now heads up totalplay Ltd where he has developed class-leading non-turf cricket pitch and pitch cover solutions

For more information, visit or call 01604 864 575



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