In early January of this year, it was awesome to return to Adelaide and spend a day back rolling the decks at Kensington District Cricket Club (located in the picturesque Kensington Gardens parkland). It surprised me a couple of months ago when the Daily Telegraph released their pick of XI South Australian cricket grounds and the famous club’s old haunt featured ahead of their now home of many years.
Having played at Kensington from 2000 to 2008 and previously worked the wickets as a lackey and as a curator, I do my best to return to the gem that is the Browns. Aptly, the head curator and captain of the Browns is Jake Brown. Brownie runs Adelaide Sports Turf Services and has now been curating KDCC since 2010 with fellow player Scott Aufderheide.
Inside the Browns pavilion are a feature in themselves, with Grimett and Bradman standing out on the honour boards while premierships photos across all grades litter the walls. The pavilion looks out onto the the main and middle ground, Parkinson Oval, while to the left is Ford Oval and to the right, above the creek bed is Colonel Waite. They share the facility with Burnside Rugby Union Club (who take over from April to September with separate club rooms), which they’ve formed a strong relationship with in recent years and ensure that squares get through the winter in as good a nick.
The Parkinson square is a six wicket block with Santa Ana couch grass and in recent years has changed from being a slow wicket favouring the batsmen to a the pitch offering pace, bounce and movement early to become a fair cricket pitch. Besides a period in the mid 90’s the wicket hasn’t had any major work. Ideally the pitch could be a seven wicket block and proud of the outfield. The irrigation that surrounds the square is slightly out and doesn’t provide the most even coverage so sumi soakers do get a fair run.
On the rise opposite the club rooms, being the far side of Parkinson Oval are their turf training nets while at the duck pond end (where many a ball have been lost) are their hard wicket nets. Their turf training nets are of a great quality, with a strong covering of couch through out bar the block holes which cop a serious pounding due to large number of juniors and seniors training. The net system itself while doing the job, is due an upgrade.
One of the great assets of preparing wickets at Kensington is the grass tennis court and bowls club next door, which at times has an endless supply of clippings to use in the early preparation of training wickets in particular (do not use bowling greens clippings on a pitch due to potential sand on the leaf). Jake has continued to foster a strong relationship with them along with the Burnside City Council who maintain the outfields and irrigation.
The top oval and predominately 3rd/4th grade, Col. Waite is a small ground, with cow generally being the bigger hit. Going straight is rewarding particularly if you can get the new ball into the creek, but early on the five pitch square which has South African couch grass, does offer assistance. However after tea, it flattens out considerably and runs are to be had. Batsmen enjoy jumping on the front foot here and stay there all day, so if the bowling team hasn’t taken early wickets, it can be a long day. The SA couch does present extremely well and comebacks beautiful even after the hottest periods which are frequent in Adelaide during the summer in late January/February before the weather turns in March.
Ford Oval, most notably for it’s large gum tree on the ground (the Kensington eblem) is a cricket square in it’s prime and would rival most premier cricket pitches in Adelaide for presentation. Less than a decade old, the pitch was dug up several years ago and replaced due to the thrashing it receives in a regular season. Previously it was only 2.5 wickets wide and had a infestation of kikuyu grass while the clay profile had a high level of thatch.
With the amount of junior cricket along with women’s and limited overs turf, the Club made the correct decision to relay the square and increase the size. Now a five wicket block, great coverage with a nice collar of Santa Ana couch, Ford Oval even with the short straight boundaries, would easily be able to host high grade cricket.
All in all, Jake Brown does a great job preparing and maintaining the turf facilities at Kensington and while not a great deal has changed at face value, a major purchase of a Mowmaster roller a few years ago has definitely made an impact to wickets, with Parkinson Oval definitely enjoying the heavier pressing.
If you’re in South Australia and need an expert turfie, though biased, I highly recommend Jake. Don’t hesitate to get in touch @ Adelaide Sports Turf Services website/Facebook for a renovation and/or regular maintenance of your lawn, tennis court, cricket square or other sports surface.
Additionally if you’re a cricket club that would like The Perfect Pitch to come past review your club in the summer of 2018/19 drop me a line at; firstname.lastname@example.org