Friday, October 14th, 2016

Packwood And Team Gearing Up For Winter And Next Season

Packwood And Team Gearing Up For Winter And Next Season

The 2016 season may be over but autumn is one of the busiest periods of the year for Worcestershire CCC head groundsman Tim Packwood and his hard-working staff – on and off the square at New Road.

The pitches, outfield and net areas have to be worked on in preparation for bedding down for the winter so they will be in fine fettle for when players report back in March.

And in addition much equipment on the ground has to be moved above flood level and the media and scorers boxes are amongst the areas utilised as storage areas.

The Worcestershire CCC website caught up with Tim who explained how the past three weeks have progressed and to what degree the condition of the wickets this summer was influenced by the new 'toss' rule.

Question: The season has been over for nearly three weeks, what stage are you at with the work on the quare-outfield?

Tim Packwood: "The main square and the nets areas have all been scarrified, seeded, top-dressed, fertilised so that they have been put to bed for the winter.

"It seems a bit strange but I could do with some rain now to kick the grass in (growing) and we are having to keep the water going to try and encourage some growth. We have got the warmth still but just need some rain.

"The outfield has all been scarrified and seeded and verti drained and top dressed so that again just needs a little bit of rain to keep it going.

"But those area are now basically all finished now for the season and just need some grass to establish before the possibility of a flood.

"Hopefully we don't get a flood, but if we can get to Christmas-time, the grass is normally well established to not get effected by a flood.

"It depends how long the water is on the ground for but normally if we can get to about Christmas-time before we get a flood, the grasses should be established enough to withstand that first flood."

Question: Last year's flood after Christmas didn't have a negative impact then?

Tim Packwood: "No, if anything the square came out pretty well unscathed and, if anything, the outfield just seemed to suffer a little bit. I think that was because the frost got into it a little bit.

"We did over-seed it in early March but again it was that cold, nothing really took hold until the back end of April after the first game."

Question: Presumably nothing really has to alter too drastically in the preparation stuff from one year to another?

Tim Packwood: "Not really. You are always looking out for new machinery and new techniques that you can use but with the squares and the outfields all being finished now, we've suddenly switched to flood mode.

"We are moving machinery off site to be serviced, sheets above flood level and just making sure by the end of next week that anything we need to get above flood level is above there so, with people now wanting to take a well earned holiday, we have got stuff to a safe place."

Question: "As you point out, you have already moved a lot of equipment above flood level?

Tim Packwood: "The ground staff move all of our equipment that is in the porto cabin in the net area. We have mainly got sheets, barriers for going underneath sheets, piping, litle water hogs, the brushes, rakes for pitch preparation. That is all up in the media box.

"The gate stewards and catering staff are all going around the ground now, clearing out their areas and moving equipment, boundary boards, fridges, and those kind of things above flood level.

"You just switch into this mode once the main parts are finished on the grass from my point of view. My next priority is to make sure stuff is above flood level just to be on the safe side."

Question: "What is you opinion on the toss rule and the impact it had on wickets?

Tim Packwood: "I think it worked really well. Early doors, from a cricketing point of view, from the coaches and my point of view, I think we did air on the side of caution a little bit more because you didn't want to be put into bat in early April and May when the ball could be going all over the place.

"Then, as the season went on, we did try and leave a touch more grass on the pitches. Some people remark that some of the pitches were bland but I just think it made for better cricket which is what they (the ECB) wanted.

"Teams weren't able to roll teams out for 120 and then clock up big scores after that. Virtually every game we had, was set up nicely for a result when the weather allowed."

Question: Is the difference then taking all the grass off early season?

Tim Packwood: "It is about taking the grass off a bit earlier so it goes white as opposed to having a green tinge to it but it's swings and roundabouts really because you need that green tinge to help with a bit of pace and carry.

"As soon as you start taking the grass a little bit lower than maybe we have done in the past, you do lose a little bit of your pace and carry as well so it's just finding that balance."

Question: Is getting a bit more pace into the wickets an objective?

Tim Packwood: "That is the main thing. What we have found in the last couple of years is to get the pace and bounce in some of the wickets on the square, we've got to leave a lot more grass on.

"But doing that, you need to leave live grass. It is pointless leaving a covering of grass which is dead because the ball tends to sit in there a little bit rather than zip off the surface.

"But when you leave the live grass on, that's when you've got the tendancy for the ball to do a little bit.

"Having said that, if you ask any county cricketer, opening batsman or opening bowler, they will expect the ball to do something until lunch on the first day. Batsmen know they've probably got to work for their runs up until lunch."