The perfect cricket pitch is one that allows the players to enjoy the game without being distracted by the surface they’re playing upon. That being said, there are more specific needs that must be met on the pitch, as well.
A cricket pitch must be 20.12 metres long and 3.05 metres wide. This is the centre strip between the cricket nets or wickets.
There are quite a few options for ground cover, including artificial grass and even bare soil, but a high-level cricket pitch will have a covering of grass that is trimmed very short to allow for play. It’s important to note that once a match has started, there are no repairs except in extreme conditions. The pitch will change its condition over the course of the match and this can affect how the game is played.
The cricket pitch has to be easy to play on and one of the most important factors is how level it is. You can measure it with a 3-metre straight edge and the levels should not surpass 5mm at any angle at any point on the pitch. It cannot have holes or even any noticeable dents or depressions in the ground.
Before each game, the groundskeeper will need to check the levelness of the pitch and adjust it if needed.
The vegetation on a pitch should be minimal. In fact, it needs to be trimmed considerably so the players have a flat, even surface to play on. However, it’s also important that there be no bare ground, as this can affect the game. The general rule of thumb is that no bare spots should be over 20mm in diameter and there cannot be more than 15% bare ground in the entire pitch.
In order to maintain the cricket pitch, it’s best to have the right equipment. It’s a very precise game, which means you need to be very careful about how everything is done.
To prevent rain from ruining the pitch, it is often covered at night with special covers that will protect it from both rain and dew. This is removed immediately in the morning. Not all pitches can be covered and it must be agreed upon ahead of time.
Other maintenance equipment includes:
This is a machine that removes excess water from the pitch. It is used immediately before the first toss but can also be used to dry things out early in the morning if there is too much water.
The roller is used to compact the pitch. There are manual and petrol options that can be used and they each have their own pros and cons. The drum of the roller may be filled with water, sand, or concrete, or it may be left empty. You can also have a heavy roller, which is a machine with rollers on the front and back. The operator can ride atop these like a small tractor and they can be used to compact the ground. Heavy rollers are banned in some areas, but they can be quite effective.
For a manual roller, you’ll push it or pull it yourself and may be used when the pitch is too wet to use a heavy roller.
A drag mat is similar to a roller but is a rectangle instead of a cylinder. It may be pulled over the pitch by hand or with a tractor, depending on your needs.
There are many different mowers designed to help you keep the grass on the pitch cut very short. The cylinder mower uses a blade at the front of the mower and above it is another cylinder with multiple blades that pass over the fixed blade to cut any grass that pops up. It creates a striped look to the grass when used up and down the pitch.
The height of the grass being cut is measured by setting a height bar that will prevent any grass from being uneven.
The string line is essential for marking the pitch before you prepare it. This aids in creating a very straight line and ensuring the measurements are accurate.
You’ll use this frame to paint the pitch creases. It is laid on the ground in the correct position and then you can easily see and mark the creases. Usually, this is done with paint, but some people prefer to use reflective road studs.
The entire pitch needs to be swept before the match and this is done with a broom. However, you can speed the process up by using a tractor-mounted broom. It will eliminate any debris. Keep in mind that you do need to place grass clippings in areas where no grass is growing and the broom may remove this.
You’ll also need to treat the grass once the season is over. Since the methods of keeping your cricket pitch in good condition are opposite to regular lawn care, the space will need some care later on to help renew the grass and ensure it continues to grow throughout the off-season. You’ll need a rake, broadcast spreader, and fertiliser to ensure the grass is looked after.
Want your cricket pitch to really stand out? Consider adding some of the following elements to make it work better for both spectators and players.
Keep the spectators off the pitch and the square with boundary ropes. This is the best way to allow everyone to see without causing a major distraction on the actual pitch.
Manual score boards are a wonderful addition to any cricket pitch and allow for a better experience. Both players and spectators will enjoy seeing the exact scores available. You’ll need to assign someone to set up the new scores as they appear. It can add to the excitement of watching the match.
These studs may be used to mark the square and the areas around the cricket pitch. They reflect light at night and will be quite visible to ensure people don’t step onto the pitch.
This won’t be added to the pitch, but it is useful to have for those who wish to practice and build their skills. It’s a good idea to have all the necessary items on hand, such as cricket bats and balls. This allows players to practice before their match, though they shouldn’t be permitted to play on the pitch, which will be destroyed if they do so, particularly right before a match.
Wondering what a bad pitch looks like? Most people know one when they see it, but overall, a poor pitch is not consistent. The pitch should provide consistent pace and bounce, but if the pitch offers variable pace or bounce, it’s likely because of one of the following problems:
Grass density: If there’s too much grass or the grass is patchy and has too many thin areas, this can affect the bounce. The type of grass can also change the way the pitch works.
Too much moisture: High moisture content in the soil will also cause variable bounce and pace, particularly if there are puddles or areas with more water. Inconsistent watering is usually the cause of this.
Too little moisture: Very dry soil will also react differently and can result in low bounce. It’s a good idea to invest in a waterer that allows you to measure the amount of water you use on the pitch so you can spray it evenly and avoid over or underwatering.
Improper compaction: Soft soil is very bad for playing cricket and the ball will end up behaving very differently. It’s essential that the condition of the pitch is correct and it needs to be heavily compacted. However, it’s also important to avoid overdoing it and killing everything. A hard pitch is good, but it shouldn’t be too hard. This is why most groundsmen know how to play and understand the physics involved.
Uneven surfaces: We’ve already looked at how to check how level the pitch is, but if there are noticeable holes and dips on the pitch, it will definitely affect the ball play.
With proper care, you can ensure your cricket pitch is always ready for a match. It does require very careful attention to achieve the perfect ground hardness and be sure to keep the grass cut short and avoid over or under-watering.
You will need the right cricket tools to keep the pitch looking great, so check out Sportsmark’s catalogue for all the items you might need for your pitch. From bats and broadcast spreaders to rakes and drag mats, we have it all! Get in touch today to discuss your requirements.