The grass square is being used at VCC for a couple of seasons now, but the guidelines for management of the square are probably not familiar to many members. Hence this protocol. A completely different approach and way of thinking about how we use our main field is required. The grass square is vulnerable. Our intention is to play as many matches on the grass pitches as possible but the wickets are very new. It usually takes three of four years for a square to reach maturity.
The preparation of a pitch begins approximately a week before it is to be used. The grass on a pitch is cut to a height of 7 mm and then the pitch is swept and raked. The day before use the pitch is cut to 3 mm. Just before the start of a match the pitch is rolled and cut once again and the creases are marked out. During the course of a week all 7 pitches are rolled and watered on a daily basis (if it doesn’t rain). The pitches that are not immediately going to be used are cut to 17 mm. The next pitch to be used is kept dry for a number of days before use and covered if there is a chance of rain (by the mobile covers). The other pitches and run ups could also be covered if necessary one or two days before the match. After a match all pitches are watered and the pitch that has been used repaired (bowlers’ footholds etc.) the following day if it is not being used immediately after.
Pitches need light, air and moisture. On weekdays they will not be covered. If the square becomes wet as a result of rain then the main field cannot be used, not even the astro wicket. Wet pitches are vulnerable and are very easily damaged. Training and junior matches on the outfield, however, are not a problem and we will not water the square just before matches. In most cases matches can go ahead as planned. Pitches that have been prepared are reseeded. Avoid contact with these areas (easily recognizable by new clay and seed). Fielders and umpires should avoid these spots as much as possible. Run along the edge of an adjoining pitch and not on wet or prepared patches. Never run on the pitch being used. If you are batting first this can be interpreted as unsporting behavior. Bowlers should as far a possible run off the pitch in their follow throughs. Also after matches on the astro pitch cover the square immediately if it rains. Otherwise you will lose a lot of time before you can resume. It is not advisable to play in the rain on a grass wicket.
Removal of the covers
The square can sweat as a result of covering. The top surface is for the first hour or so after covering very vulnerable. It is therefore advisable to remove the covers at least two hours before a match (dependent on the weather of course). That includes the 30 to 45 minutes required for the removal process itself. The time it takes for the square to dry out can be used to prepare the field for the game. If puddles or other wet patches are discovered, standing water can be removed by the bow-dry machine. The amount of standing moisture determines whether there will be a further delay. In most cases this will not be more than one hour. The full covering operation cannot be carried out by a just a few people. If there is a chance of rain the people training on any given evening will have to cover the square. In the weekends the teams will have to do likewise. After the matches the covers should be laid out – not folded because of the danger of fungus. Leave them at the perimeter of the field. They should be folded away before Tuesdays if possible as the field is mown on that day. The team playing on any particular day on a grass pitch is responsible for marking out the creases. Communicate any changes in the program of matches with the groundsman. Then we can plan our work with the minimum of problems for everyone.
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