The Perfect Pitch has regular contributors and we thought we’d take time out with one, Josh Morris from QLD. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, Josh has been in Brisbane for 20 years and took a keen interest in the turf industry at a young age of 15. His first experience was when he attempted to do his school work experience at his local cricket club. At the last minute, the groundsman’s wife fell ill and he wasn’t able to attend. His placement officer however made a couple of phone calls and organised a different venue. That venue happened to the be the Gabba and the rest is history.
TPP: Where do you work now, how long for and any further aspirations?
JM: I own and operate Turf Wicket Maintenance Services. The business started last year but it has been something we have been working towards for the last 5 years. We would love to see the business keep growing now and in to the future in south east Queensland. I believe as a curator your aspirations are to better the result from last week and it has been something I have always tried to do each and every week.
TPP: What happens in your average week?
JM: My average week usually starts on a Sunday. I go in to South Brisbane District Cricket club and clean up the three match wickets and put on the sumi soaker hoses on to get a head start for the week. These blocks are built on an old land fill site and take a lot of water to keep them going through the hot summers we have in Brisbane. Monday will usually be more water again at Souths and on the phone speaking to the two other clubs that we prepare grounds for about the weekends wickets and any feedback from umpires or home team captains.
Tuesday is travel day off to the Sunshine Coast at 4 am to be there by 6am. I have a meeting with my curator that I have preparing the wickets and fields. John Deacon has been with me for the last 6 months. He is a great bloke and curator to have working with me. He prepares a great wicket and follows the nutrition and water programs that I implement to a tee. Wednesday is in Brisbane at Souths to prepare for the there cricket requirements for the weekend. There usually is a trip to Pine Rivers Cricket Club on a Friday to check out the wicket that John has prepared and we usually catch up for a cold beer or two at this point once the work is always done.
TPP: What’s the key ingredients for making a wicket for you, do you change it up at all? And what’s your ideal wicket?
JM: I usually try and stick to a pretty tried and tested formula but it does very week to week due to weather and other factors. I do some time like to experiment during winter when you have a little more time on your hands to try something new.
Consistency is key for me. If you block is pacey than have pace in your match wickets, if it turns or is slow than let it happen. Too many curators today just make flat batting friendly roads. I like to let the natural character of the wicket be at the for front and to also find an even balance between bat and ball.
My ideal wicket is flat, hard with an even coverage of grass that has something in it for everyone. Fast bowlers get something out of it with the new ball in the first session and then it flattens out to be a good batting wicket that takes some turn for the rest of the day.
TPP: What are issues you face currently, i.e. pests/diseases/lack of resources and equipment?
JM: Like most curators out there in club land it is always a fine line to make it all work. Money is usually tight with most clubs and there is always so much that you need/could do if the funds are there. We are currently having one of the driest summers in QLD that we have had in a long time so heat stress on turf and trying to keep water in the profile is a huge challenge.
TPP: Is there anything you’re looking to do specifically with your wickets over the next year?
JM: We have a few issues with root structure on our main block at Souths now and that is something that we are going to be working very hard on in the off season. It will be a big renovation with a deep tine aeration of the block and a laser top dress and then lots of root stimulant liquid as part of a maintenance program over the winter months. Hopefully that should stabilise the profile and give us a more consistent wicket for the next year.
TPP: What’s the off season hold for you?
JM: Off season what’s that? We have renovations of wickets as soon as the summer season finishes at Souths. We have a two week break before we start a jam-packed winter program at Caloundra and Pine Rivers Cricket Club. I need to make sure I have a holiday in there somewhere so the kids remember what I actually look like and so the wife doesn’t divorce me for never being at home.
TPP: You produce belters week in week out, does the standard of the competition reflect?
JM: Hopefully we produce the best surface we can week in week out. It Is then up to the players that play to get the most out of it.
TPP: Are you associated with a local club?
JM: Being a grounds contractor we are associated with a few clubs they are Caloundra Cricket Club, South Brisbane District Cricket Club and Pine Rivers Cricket Club. They are involved in all different associations
TPP: If you could curate any ground in the world, where would it be and what’s the biggest match you’ve prepared for?
JM: I think it would have to be the home of cricket “LORDS”. I have curated a few big matches in my time, last year we have had National Under 17’s Championship at Caloundra. I’ve prepared trial match wickets for QLD bulls vs Tasmania one dayers. Along with an IPL touring squad practice matches and Cricket Australia High Performance Unit against PNG.
TPP: Do you listen to music or the beat of the roller?
JM: I do both. My first roll of the day on the Mentay walk behind or ride on, I always listen to the sound of the motor and the hydro just to hear it hum. There is no better sound that a roller just ticking along in my book. Usually I crank up the music on my Spotify roller play list during the middle of the day roll just to keep the mind on the job.
TPP: What’s the best piece of machinery you have on hand?
JM: Depends which club I am at but at Caloundra or Pine Rivers. It would be the Mentay 2000, love those rollers. At Souths, it’s a tight call but it would be my Mowmaster wicket mower or my Mentay hydra-glide roller.
TPP: Favorite pattern to cut in?
JM: I have always like a north south stripe pattern that lines up with your block or a checker board cut. Bit of a traditionalist in that respect I pose.
TPP: Any tips for someone getting into the industry in your area?
JM: Use the resources available to you and make sure you look after yourself when working in the sun. too many young players don’t use proper sun protection and don’t drink enough fluid and end up getting pretty sick. We all know that we aren’t going to be millionaires working in this trade and we all want to go home safe and well at the end of each day. AND ASK PLENTY OF QUESTIONS when you get a chance to catch up with another curator from around your area.
TPP: If you work with a few blokes, do you have knock off beers and chat about your work, is it a good environment?
JM: We always have knock off beers each Friday when all the grounds are done and ready to go from the week. We keep it light and easy going at work with the crew. The banter is usually free flowing and we all have respect for what each person can do.
TPP: What’s it like in Caloundra with other curators, do you talk match and share ideas?
JM: I have made it known to other clubs that my door is always open and if there are curators are struggling with an issue with a wicket or a field that I am always here for a chat. There have been a few cups of coffee consumed this season by other groundsman in our work shop asking a few questions and I think that is great. No question is a dumb question was what I was always told as an apprentice and I think I have always tried to hold true to that. Keep up the great work with the website and Facebook page mate I love looking at the pictures of other grounds each week.
Check out his work at Turf Wicket Maintenances Services or Caloundra Cricket Club. Alternative keep an eye out on The Perfect Pitch for his weekly submissions
Special thanks to Gabba Sporting Goods for their continued support of The Perfect Pitch.