13 Apr

The Coronavirus lockdown has put most county cricket players and support staff on furlough, but head groundsmen around the country are still tending to their pitches so that they are ready if or when it resumes.

Karl McDermott, the Lord’s head groundsman, should have spent the past few weeks preparing for Middlesex’s first Specsavers County Championship match of the season against Worcestershire, due to start yesterday. In normal times, there would be a team of eight people sitting on mowers or rollers preparing the ground. Now, McDermott is working alone and keeping a diary of his work on Twitter.

“Living on the ground helps, so I have no travel to do,” he said. “I just walk out of my house into what is probably the world’s greatest garden. My deputy comes in three days a week to work on the Nursery ground but we are working in complete isolation from each other. The main square is the priority. Being on your own, it’s quite difficult to do the big jobs but keeping the square up to standard is the main aim.”

“You can prep a pitch in two weeks for a county match if all the staff are back at work, you can just throw bodies at the job,” he said. “You might need slightly longer for an international match but a minimum two weeks’ notice and we’d be good to go.”

A hybrid pitch of part turf, part plastic yarn, has been laid on the Lord’s square. Hybrid pitches, used for T20 and List A games, are starting to be installed around the country because they can be used three or four times before any additional work needs to be done. Early signs are they give good pace and carry.

“It might be that there are a lot of games in a very short amount of time and if it’s T20 the hybrid pitch will be very useful for us,” 

Yesterday his Twitter entry read: “Today is a case of what should have been! This was the pitch for Middlesex vs Worcs. Good covering of grass but firm underneath, it would be a brave captain to bat first in April.”

John Stephenson


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