The Groundsman: Winter is here

In his latest groundcare column David Bates, former first-class groundsman and MD of cricket pitch specialist total-play Ltd, advises on how to get natural cricket pitches through the depths of winter


Now the colder months have arrived, cricket grounds look vacant and a bit sorry for themselves. 

With wet weather coming in and ground temperatures decreasing the grass plant stops growing so mowing is typically no longer required. Ground temperatures need to be above approximately 6°C for the grass plant to be turning over – in previous winters we have seen continual growth but, with cold temperatures anticipated this winter, the grass plant looks like it’s gone dormant already. 

Add wet weather and both the square and outfield quickly become saturated to the point where simply walking over the ground can cause footprints and damage. 

This means it’s important to have some form of visual and physical boundary around the cricket table, especially if the ground allows general access to unwitting walkers or bike riders. Some metal stakes and plastic fencing or ropes are fine, but it could even be worth installing a more permanent wooden fence line for the winter. 

If snow lies for some time it’s important, especially on the square, to make sure the grass plant hasn’t ‘dampened off¬’. This happens when the grass plant is basically smothered, dies back and creates bare patches across the area. 

One way to prevent this is to keep the grass height no longer than an inch and, when conditions allow, brush or very lightly rake the sward to help it stand up after it’s been pushed down by snow or heavy rainfall. 

Also make periodic inspections of the ground for damage from pests such as rabbits, foxes or badgers. Other than that, it’s really a waiting game until the warmer weather arrives. 

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 fi nest pitches in the country. Having worked as a pitch advisor and trainer for the IoG David now heads up total-play 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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