Thursday, February 26th, 2015

What A Difference A Year Makes As Flood-Free New Road Looks A Picture

What A Difference A Year Makes As Flood-Free New Road Looks A Picture

What a difference a year makes!

The current superb condition of the New Road outfeld and square is in direct contrast to the nightmare scenario of 12 months ago after prolonged flooding.

In the words of long-serving head groundsman Tim Packwood, the playing area was "a dirty, brown mess."

It meant there was a question mark over whether the opening LV = County Championship match of the season against Kent would be played at the club's headquarters and pre-season nets were staged at Kidderminster. 

Water as high as 10 feet deep decimated the grass covering on the square.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of Packwood and his superb team – and not forgetting all the other departments affected on the ground – cricket did get underway at New Road in mid April.

Winning the Professional Cricket Grounds team of the year award in December was richly deserved after the efforts of Packwood and Luke Weston, Martin Watts, Ash Hill, Arthur Jones and Steve Gravenall during 2014.

But as we head into March this winter there has not been a single drop of flood water – so far – on the playing arena which looks a picture just six weeks before the opening match with Yorkshire starting on April 12.

Packwood said: "At the same stage this time last year, we had just about lost the last flood. At that stage,looking across the ground, it was just a dirty, brown mess and we we were left with 20-30 per cent grass coverage on the square.

"I must admit at that stage I didn't think there was anyway we would play that first game against Kent at New Road and perhaps even the second against Derbyshire.

"But we managed to get the game on and it was a feather in the cap for my team to be able to do that – and the rest of the club to make sure other areas and departments were ready as well."

Packwood is enjoying the flood-free winter – the first for more than a decade.

He said: "There have been a few in the 25 years I've been here. Five years ago we only had ankle deep water on the square but again it is classed as 'a flood.'

"The 2003 winter was the last winter where we didn't flood at all. This year so far we've had no flooding on the square touchwood. A little bit of water made it onto the car park a few weeks back but that was all."

Packwood admitted: "It's nice now to be in the situation where I'm having to worry now if I've got a bit too much grass on the square and do I need to take it down a fraction shorter.

"It's better than gettng to the stage we were at last year and most years of 'oh no, we've got to over-seed, we've got no grass.

"If there is no flood at all, in theory it should make a difference to the way the wickets play because we've got more grass on the square and, if you've got more grass, you should be able to hold the wicket together better.

"It should make it easier in the earlier stages of preparation and we can now decide how much grass we want to leave on as opposed to even up to the first five championship games of last season of being limited in what we could leave on because of the amount of grass we had there."