A healthy group of club groundskeepers descended on Abbotskerswell CC on Wednesday, May 15 to receive training on pitch preparation from ECB/GMA Regional Pitch Advisor Phil Jeggo.

Phil was spending a few days in the county and was ably assisted by two of our County Pitch Advisors: Paul Mitchell and Peter Woodman. This was a rearranged session after the planned event was cancelled in March due to the poor weather.

On this occasion, the rain stayed away long enough for a two-hour training session to take place on the square, with "in-season" pitch preparation being the main focus. The session was also an informal opportunity for club groundskeepers to share any challenges they face and gain some best practice from those with plenty of experience.

The ECB/GMA's Regional Pitch Advisor, Phil Jeggo, shares best practices with local groundskeepers.

Advice was shared on preparing pitch surfaces for consistent play and wear resistance, along with guidance on best cutting, scarifying and rolling techniques. Those in attendance found the training beneficial and took away a few tips to either make life a little easier or be in a better position to turn out a quality playing surface.

Clubs affiliating to the Devon Cricket Grounds Services (DCGS) package are able to attend these sessions and engage with our County Pitch advisers as and when any concerns occur.

A further practical training session is being planned for DCGS-affiliated clubs before the end of this season. The session will focus on individuals who may be interested in finding out more about basic groundskeeping so that they can offer support to their club groundskeepers who, we all know, regularly have a tough time battling the elements, an increasing amount of fixture commitments with ageing equipment.

We would encourage all clubs to consider new volunteers who could help with their club grounds and get their names down for our next session. In the first instance, please contact Funding & Facilities Manager, Nick Goodliffe, to express an interest.

County Pitch Advisor Paul Mitchell gives a verticutting demonstration.

Some exciting news will soon be revealed regarding a new funding initiative from the ECB called the "Grass Pitch Improvement Fund", which is being rolled out for cricket in 2024. Clubs will be nominated for a new form of pitch quality assessment using the PitchPower application, which has been in operation in football for a few years already. This will now be implemented in the cricket and rugby recreational games.

Clubs best meeting the eligibility criteria will be prioritised for inspections and potential funding based on findings from the inspection. Further details to follow in the coming weeks.