Acknowledging Australia’s Best

The Perfect Pitch is looking for expressions of interests to assist with acknowledging and encouraging curators across Australia (if we get big enough worldwide).

We are taking feedback on what the award levels should be and would encourage everyone to send in so we can identify the right mix and the level we extend to. We are thinking that the categories should be

  • Best Curator
  • Best Young Curator (30 and under)
  • Best at Major Ground
  • Best at Premier Cricket
  • Best at Council
  • Best at Subdistict
  • Best at Amateur
  • Best at Country
  • Best at Backyard

Ideally we’d like to be able to reward each category with something more than a The Perfect Pitch apparel and acknowledgement and if enough interest is warranted extend it into State & Territory.

If you’re an individual, business, brand or product that is related to cricket and would like to support our wicket artists and assist with getting a national award system for our trade off the ground get in touch theperfect@perfectcricketpitch.com

We want feedback, inclusion and transparency, so any thoughts, ideas and suggestions that will get the possible result for our trade is the aim.

Your Wicket Table, Watering & Hot Weather

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With the Australian summer starting to kick in, it is paramount that you manage the irrigation on your wicket block to ensure that you can maintain the turf coverage & recovery through the hottest part of the season. While couch is extremely hardy and can recover well from extended days without water it is essential that there is moisture in the lower half of the profile that the turf can live on to push through those hot summer days where it may not get water for three to four days. This article is on keeping the wicket table (resting pitches) in a healthy state during the preparation and use of a match day pitch.

It’s never too late (unless prior to play) to water your turf if you think it is struggling. If it needs water, it needs water. Only issues you’ll generally run into if you’re irrigating on a hot day are;

  • You setup some irrigation, turn it on and then get stuck into other work, a couple of hours later you remember and your square is flooded.
  • If the irrigation isn’t running, the item used can heat up extremely quickly, example being a sumi soaker which can leave a nice long burn mark the length of your table.
  • You over water, get the weather wrong, example, a cool change comes in and suddenly the square or bare areas won’t dry out.

A good indication of where your wicket block should be in the run of a mill preparing for a Saturday fixture is no deep or wide cracking at all on the wickets in rest. The first areas to generally crack open like this are the bare areas around the creases, in practice, it is good to give these spots an extra amount of water. The example shown below is where you should be happy going into a game the day before play. Jigsaw puzzle cracking, small but lots of pieces means that below the surfaces there is still plenty of moisture and the table should hold together nicely for the weekend.

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This next picture shows the snake cracking that you don’t want happening before a match. Snake cracks which lead to large plate cracking should never appear on the wicket table unless you’ve had several days of cricket played and you’re unable to replenish the square. A snake crack indicates that moisture from below the 10 to 50mm of the profile is starting to dry out. If extended drying of the clay profile continues, larger deeper snake cracks will form where the moisture trapped in the bottom profile will be lost.

Small snake cracking
Snake cracking just starting to appear through the middle of smaller jigsaw puzzle size cracking.

Continually drying and cracking at this level of a clay can cause irreparable damage to your square. It was previously believed that this was the best option to aerate the clay profile but this is no longer recommended. Large wide cracking (over 10mm in width) does significant damage to the turf, snapping root the system as it widens, causing damage to the plant itself but also leaving behind dead organic matter (thatch). If not properly prepared or maintained, low spots will then form where the major cracking has occurred, and significantly the cracking will return along those initially fractures and can be extremely hard to stop appearing once the issue presents.

Large and wide snake cracking should only generally appear on a pitch in use that is for a four or five day fixture as pictured below. If you are finding cracks like this on the your resting wickets, you need to up the watering, either time or add extra intervals.

Snake Cracking
Large snake cracking appearing on a test pitch. This is the only time a curator should find such cracking acceptable, in the long form games that are four to five days in length.

Key points to remember about maintaining moisture in your wicket table;

  • Keep an eye on the weather, every day and look ahead into the week and even seasonal forecasts. If you know the week is going to be hot, putting extra water in earlier to prevent damage and keep your turf and clay healthy.
  • Watering early in the day or late evening is better, when temperatures are at their lowest and ground has cooled, allowing the plant and profile to absorb more. However, you can and should water during the day if your turf is struggling and your clay profile is breaking open.
  • Deep watering is required with a clay profile. This means pushing the water down with two to three sets of watering each day, before pitch preparation begins. With hot weather, you can lose upwards of 20mm a day in evaporation and transpiration. You want to replace this and then some. Water moving throw compacted clay can be as slow as 2mm an hour.
Clay Profile
This section of the clay profile (roughly a 100mm) shows the depth of root growth. However in this photo there are significant issues with this pitch, layering and thatch are present. From the Sports Turf Association of Queensland.
  • If you’re hand watering, give the foot holes and bare ends on resting pitches extra, these areas dry out quickest due to the black clay.
  • Get the water back in after the completion of a match as soon as possible. This will enable better turf recovery and ensure any large cracking is minimal.
  • Mow your square earlier rather than later in the day. Hot weather will shock the plant and mowing will double the damage if done in the heat of the day. You don’t want to stress your plant. Going up in height of the cut can also ease stress on the plant. 10mm is about right but if you have a sparse square, you may want to go slightly higher.
  • If you have the funds, look at anti-stress fertilisers and foliar application like silica for your turf. These will aid not only with getting the turf through hot conditions but recovery, plant and root strength.
  • These watering recommendations are recommended for Australian climates and countries that have temperatures continually going over 30 degrees during the summer.
  • Without moisture underneath the surface of your wicket table, the process of making a good cricket pitch becomes harder. Moisture is required for compaction of clay and without this ingredient in the area 10-200mm below the surface, your ability to prepare a good surface will be compromised.
  • And while the players might not thank you for it, if you are able to maintain a grass coverage on your square, you’ll have a surface that is less likely to cause grazes and cuts when players are fielding.

In short;

When dealing with watering, keep an eye on the weather, adjust to increase watering early in the piece rather than making it up later and don’t be afraid to water on hot days or before game day if you know there is adequate time for surface moisture to dry.

Do you think we’ve covered all the right areas, maybe left anything out or got it wrong? Don’t hesitate to get in touch, leave a comment on facebook, join the discussion so that everyone learns.

Fletcher Park

Fletcher Park Vandalism & Recovery

Great to see the recovery only a few days later from Brett Fraser at Fletcher Park. Home to the Perth Cricket Club in Western Australia, Brett is a regular contributor to The Perfect Pitch. 24201185_10215301991207556_1204306440_o.jpg

Vandals attacked the square on Saturday night on November 25th, doing circle work with a bike. The pitch still being rock hard has limited the damage however it does cause some distress for the curator regardless.

Brett was able to make a full recovery for the weekend just gone presenting a belter where the runs flowed.

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Cricket pitches are an easy target for reckless vandalism, with costs generally never recovered. Last year Brett also had a similar experience with the pitch being attacked with the star pickets that are used to rope off the square.

Again, he was able to rectify the damage and ensure the game goes on.

Backyard Belters

Welcome to The WCG – Backyard Belters

Welcome to our first edition of Ground’s in Focus supported by Gabba Sporting Goods. We venture to the suburbs of Sydney to the White Cricket Ground where this backyard cricket gem is located and has two main men running the show. We got in touch with one of them, Brendan Scott, to have a chat about how it all came about.

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TPP: So Brendan, tell us a bit about the WCG and how long has it been going and how it came about?

Brendan: This is our second year at the WCG. The truth is there are two of us behind what has become the WCG. Myself (Brendan) and my good mate Matt. It’s his house that we play at, he is responsible for all the curating and I look after the logistics such as team arrangements, itinerary, advertising etc. We both have loved cricket from a very early age, and always will. we both grew up in the Bankstown area in south western Sydney.

TPP: What is your average week like when preparing the WCG?

Brendan: Matt will cut and maintain the ground and I will be trying to work out the logistics of the day.

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With their club cricket days behind them, it hasn’t stopped the backyard cricket from being just as enjoyable. Their most recent test at the WCG is one of their most memorable. Brendan’s XI were rolled for the lowest total ever recorded at the WCG in a test match 19 in the first innings to be dead in the water, only to fight back and knock over Matt’s XI for 36.

Setting the home team 91 to win, Brendan’s XI shone with the ball to win by 41 runs. They had great inaugural T20 Competition Final where the match went down to the last ball. The beauty of the commitment to their backyard setup is all these matches can be viewed on their YouTube channel, WCG Backyard Cricket.

TPP: What are the key ingredients for making a wicket for you, do you experiment with your wicket and what is your ideal backyard pitch?

Brendan: Fertilizer and water straight after a match to begin the process, then constant water to allow the grass to grow, with light rolling on match day. We take the better safe than sorry approach to wicket preparation, looking for even surface & bounce but also has its own unique characteristics.

TPP: What’s your best piece of machinery and is there apiece equipment that you’d like to get to improve the quality of your surface and preparation?

Brendan: Our little push mower, trims the pitch nicely and maintains a good level. A heavier roller would be ideal.

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TPP: What are issues you face currently such equipment or resources?

Brendan: Time. Work obviously takes up most of our time and it’s hard to get motivated after a 10 hour day.

TPP: How do you see backyard cricket progressing in the future, as it has previously had quite a following in places like New Zealand with proper competitions?

Brendan: I certainly hope so. everyone has their own unique backyard with unique rules, scoring areas, dismissals etc. would be great to form some sort of competition.

TPP: What type of balls are allowed in your match, are swing balls allowed to be re-taped, any special conditions with your venue?

Brendan: We use full and half taped tennis balls. Can’t be given out LBW if playing a stroke. If you hit the ball over the fence you’re just out, not 6 and out. Apart from that it’s pretty standard cricket.

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TPP: Any tips for young fella that might that is looking to get his backyard cricket game up to your level?

Brendan: Our level? Thanks. Haha. I would say to express yourself. It’s your unique set up and that’s what makes this so exciting, seeing people’s different ideas and possibly implementing them as you go along. Would also highly encourage creating a YouTube channel to showcase your venue.

TPP: What’s the banter and environment like before, during and after? Does everyone pitch in to get things done, i.e. rain interruptions and the covers out?

Brendan: Yeah, the banter gets intense in the group chat which builds it up nicely. We have quite a multicultural group of friends so we have different dishes per event (Lebanese, Greek etc.) always a BBQ of some sort. Thankfully we haven’t had to rush out with the covers yet. touch wood.

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TPP: Is the sponsorship for show or are they legitimate?

Brendan: For show. The companies belong to some of the boys. More advertisement than anything else but gives the backyard that real life arena feel which is what we are going for.

TPP: Do you feel any pressure build up to the big day, expectations are high?

Brendan: Ummm, more an anxiousness to get out and beat your mate on the day, but when you’re in the middle and its game on it gets serious. Very serious. We are all super competitive but it always remains good natured. We don’t hold back with the ball either, a few blokes bowl serious heat which is great for those who used to play decent level cricket and miss the competitive side, the contest.

TPP: What’s the off season hold for you?

Brendan: Depression, haha. I coach a football (soccer) team and Matt loves his motorsport. If we’re not doing that, you’ll find us up the pub watching the Rugby league.

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TPP: Anything else that you might like to add, classic stories or innings?

Brendan: I’d actually like to congratulate and thank yourself on what you are doing to promote backyard cricket and cricket as a whole. Keep up the good work. also, anyone in the Sydney area keen to give us a run, get in contact with us.

Our pleasure Brendan and Matt, thanks for sharing your brilliant backyard venue with us. If you’d like to see more of the WCG or take them up on their offer of a backyard test match, check out their social media accounts;

YouTube – The WCG Backyard Cricket

Facebook – @TheWCGBackyardCricket

Instagram – @TheWCGBackyardCricket

 

Pitches of the Week

Pitches of the Week supported by Mowmaster Turf Equipment

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A variety of wickets made the cut this weekend with a couple that didn’t see any cricket at all with temperatures reaching the low to mid 40’s around the South Eastern states.

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Marburg Mt Crosby Thunder Cricket Club, Ipswich QLD

Marino Nugter has contributed regularly over this season and his wickets continue to improve. Curating in QLD, here’s a little about the wicket he maintains;

Marburg Mustangs and Mt Crosby Sharks were two separate clubs but officially merged three years ago. Since the merger, they left grounds at Marburg and we now use two council fields at Tivoli Sporting Complex and  one field at Mt Crosby Weir. Marino Nugter, Kel Janke and Peter Johansson look after the wickets at Tivoli, which is shared with St Edmunds College. St Edmunds only use them for cricket for about 8 weeks on Saturday at the start of the school year and then Thunder seniors play on them rest of time.

The juniors then play on the Sunday. To keep wickets/blocks in good nick, Marino and Peter look after them as they don’t have a cricket groundsman at Edmunds. Before these three came along, the squares were uneven and sparse. In their first season, the wickets were still inconsistent bounce, low balls shooting through but with a lot of work going into them, they’re now close to flat. Bounce and carry has improved with the extra attention and rolling. Unfortunately no play on this belter with the matches called off on the Saturday and Sunday with temperatures in Ipswich reaching 40 and 43 degrees.

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Prince Alfred College, Adelaide SA

Daimon Jones sent in this quality school wicket from Adelaide. Along with Phil Penn, they look after the 1st XI wicket for Prince Alfred College. Daimon recently made the move to PAC a month ago to take up the position of Manager Grounds. This wicket saw an uneven contest against close rivals. Dismissing Pembroke for 90, it was easily chased down by PAC with loss of only two down. Coaches were happy with the pitch, commenting that it played well and offered turn to the spinners.

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Trinity College, Gawler SA

Wilson Otto shared this beauty of a pitch is located at Trinity College, Gawler SA where Trinity College First XI took on Sacred Heart College First XI in a T20. SHC batted first posting 5/137 and then bowled Trinity out for 88 much to a surprise as it was a batsmen’s paradise. This match was a tussle between two private schools looking to win the One Day State Knockout Tournament later this season.

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Merrylands Oval, Parramatta NSW

Brad Horn is the curator at Merrylands Oval which is one of the leading and most well kept decks in the Sydney Premier Cricket Competition. This pitch in particular was prepared for a Parramatta 1st XI match against Blacktown but was canceled due to the heat wave on the weekend. Brad will get the same pitch up for this weekend, with the match being reduced to a One Day game. Should be even better this week having a good base on it from last weeks preparation with scores in the high 200’s expected if the weather doesn’t intervene.

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Fletcher Park, Perth WA

Brett Fraser did a cracking job to get Fletcher Park up and about for the recent two day fixture between Perth and Melville in 2nd XI WACA Grade Cricket. Last Saturday the pitch was vandalised with star pickets but was rectified and play commenced with Meville batting first to make a competitive 5 for 318.

The second week of play saw the weather intervene, Thursday and Friday copping 122mm of rain fall.  Fletcher Park and one other were the only two grounds not abandoned, with second day starting three hours late. There were some delaying tactics from Perth with concerned raised about with a wet area in the outfield. Needing 319 off 55 overs but were bowled out with three overs left in the day.

Posting Pictures to The Perfect Pitch

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Thanks for liking The Perfect Pitch. Please consider the following when submitting/sharing pictures;

*Pictures unless otherwise stated maybe used for promotions, memes, timeline and/or profile pics along with being shared on our instagram and twitter accounts www.twitter.com/iamcricketpitch and www.instagram.com/theperfectcricketpitch/

Due to the influx of pictures now being sent in pictures that are direct messaged or emailed to theperfectpitch@perfectcricketpitch.com will take priority. Following the below will increase your chances of your images being shared;

When posting a picture of a cricket pitch (ground or backyard), try to provide the following;

–  A good centre shot of pitch that is preferably landscape if it’s your first time contributing for that pitch or with additional pictures of the venue

– Get the whole length of the pitch in the shot ie don’t cut either end off, standing roughly where an umpire would/slight back from, normally givesa good result-  Provide information on the venue, ie venue name, state/city/town/suburb, team, league/grade,

– Provide information on the pitch ie grass coverage, how it plays, type of couch, cracks up, dusty, knowledge of the clay profile etc.

– Curator information ie if it contracted out to a business like Program Maintence, Pitchcraft, Green Options or curator employed by the club or club volunteers.

– Result information ie scores from the match if possible.

On other things;

– Wall posts are great but if you able to message in your picture instead (particularly with multiple shots), we’ll schedule it in so we can space a good amount of time in between shares so that your pictures gets decent coverage and not forgotten behind more recent wall posts.

– Posts don’t have to be limited to pictures of your wicket blocks, if you’ve got an amazing old roller or piece of machinery, a unique feature at your ground or a certain way you prepare your wicket, roll out covers, etc. send it in.

– Feel free to comment/email any other suggestions

– If the quality of the image shared is not great, we may use it in a gallery share with other submissions of similar quality.

– All posts will be attributed to person sharing unless requested otherwise

*We do not claim copyright over pictures submitted, we will do our best to credit the said image when originally shared.

IF YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR PICTURE/S SHARED DO NOT SEND THEM IN, IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR PICTURES REMOVED, PLEASE CONTACT US VIA DIRECT MESSAGING OR EMAIL AND WE WILL REMOVE THEM, IF THERE IS AN ISSUE WITH COPYRIGHT OR A PICTURE IS NOT CREDITED CORRECTLY PLEASE CONTACT US SO THAT IT CAN BE RESOLVED.