The Groundsman

August 2015

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AHEAD OF THE GAME 29 the Groundsman August 2015 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions all 1: Have you prepared this pitch differently to any other pitch you prepare through the season? Keith: There is a slight difference. This pitch (number 13 on the square) has been highlighted since January as the Ashes Test match pitch and we have purposely retained moisture within it so that we would be in control of the drying out process. The pitch has undergone a 10-day preparation [the norm would be 10-12]. This would extend to 14 days if we were preparing in and around April time due to there being more moisture in the soil. We now have a Clegg hammer and moisture meter that help us in our preparations; we can put figures alongside the visual aspect and our knowledge gained from experience. Ball 2: Does the Ashes Test put extra strain on you and the rest of the grounds staff? Keith: We currently have four full-time staff and this increases for the Test with us having a crew of 10 up to three days out from the game as the teams are in then for practice sessions. We have had a clear 10 days of preparation for this game so staff have been able to concentrate solely on this one pitch. Ball 3: What is your biggest challenge as a Test match groundsman? Keith: The weather! But that is the case for all grounds staff at all levels. The job determines that you have to work very long hours and any hold up in play due to the weather cannot only affect the game but also the number of spectators, so it is imperative that our preparation is spot on to limit any delays. B Bowled over by the Ashes As part of the build up to the current Ashes series, The Groundsman bowled an over at Keith Exton, head groundsman at Glamorgan SSE SWALEC Stadium, the venue for the first Test By: Jason Booth Ball 4: Do you have any superstitions or routines once play has started? Keith: I will always watch the first ball live. In fact, I watch an over from each end to see how the pitch is playing; to check on pace and bounce. I will then retreat to my office to listen to the commentary and to what is being said by the 'experts'. Ball 5: What does being a head groundsman for an Ashes Test mean to you? Keith: It really is the pinnacle of not only my career but also of any cricket groundsman's career. It's the aura that surrounds events like this and I look at it as a privilege to be the one responsible for producing a surface for an Ashes Test match. With the age of the groundsmen at Test match venues being around late 30s to mid- 40s, the opportunities to be head groundsmen at these venues do not come around that often, so again that makes me a very lucky and appreciative person. Ball 6: What advice would you give to any aspiring groundsman (at all levels)? Keith: First, use the experience (no matter how much) that you have of life. Go with your instinct as very often this will be right. Embrace the technology that is out there as this will aid your ability to not only achieve the results required but also it can be used to 'state your case' when campaigning for upgrades/numbers in materials, machinery and staff. Jason Booth is national manager of the IOG-led Grounds & Natural Turf Improvement Programme. He was formerly head of the groundscare department at Leeds Rugby's Headingley Carnegie Stadium, winning the 2013 IOG Professional Rugby League Groundsman of the Year Award. Before that he was an accomplished cricketer, playing for Kent Second XI (Second Eleven Championship: 1998); Yorkshire Cricket Association Under-19s (Miscellaneous: 1992). l Keith, far right, with his team at Glamorgan

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