Support and Advice

A basic specification for minimal maintenance of a Cricket Square and Pitch Preparation.



SPRING - March/April

Rolling is the excitement for this period. Many myths are spoken about pre season rolling, if you want to read the science into rolling then google Cranfield University and look up the results of a four year study in cricket pitch rolling. These however are the basics. Never roll when the ground is too wet, by this I mean, if you push your thumb into the surface and your thumb gets wet, then the surface is too wet, please leave the roller in the shed and don’t be persuaded to waste your time just because it is a nice day and you have the time.

There is nearly always a dry week or two in March, as a rule of thumb, once it has been dry for a week there is a chance the ground could be ready to roll. The optimum rolling speed is ½ a mile an hour. That means it takes 11/2 to 13/4 minutes to roll from behind the stump line at one end to behind the stump line at the other. This is one pass. To roll back on the same line constitutes two passes. Never carry out more than four passes on any one day. Science suggests that 22 passes are required to compact the square to depth during the pre season. It is recommended that having rolled the square one day, leave to dry for another day or two before commencing with your rolling programme. In an ideal situation, dry spell, your rolling will be completed in ten to eleven days. However, rarely are conditions ideal for any length of time so please bare in mind the following, if there is a wet day, leave another day to dry before continuing with your programme, never be in to much of a hurry to complete the programme, if you have to continue even though you have played you first matches so be it. Whatever the weather you should  be up to speed by the end of April at the latest.

What rollers, light at first, your cylinder mower if that is all you have, three or four passes with each will be sufficient. Once you get the heaviest roller out, ballast it up after three or four passes. No benefit is gained by delaying getting the big roller out as soon as ground conditions are suitable.


Mid April, apply the first application of spring/summer fertiliser. This could be 8.0.0 + 4 Fe or 12.0.9 or similar, at 2.5kg per pitch, the choice is yours. However, it will need to be applied every four to six weeks during the summer up until the end of July.  The square will require mowing at least once a week during the summer, but usually twice and the height of cut should be maintained at 12/13mm.


The more time that can be spent the better, usually. The following is what I consider absolutely minimal:

The important thing to remember is this, a pitch gets harder through drying, increased bulk density, not through over use of the roller in less than ideal conditions. Rolling is all about timing, not just because it has not been done or it happens to be a nice day.

In my opinion, the minimum time required each week will be in the region of five to six hours spread across the week, say an hour to an hour and a half a day to prepare a pitch and maintain the square, cutting and repairing ends etc. If there are midweek games then more time will be needed.

This is a very basic specification, more time can easily be spent, brushing the square, regular verti cutting, covering/uncovering of wickets etc.

Communication between the club and the councils sub contractor will be essential if reasonable pitches are to be prepared. The club may wish to take on the responsibility of the rolling, leaving all mowing and marking out to the councils sub contractors, after all they will have the required mowers. Watering may have to be a joint effort, again communication will be essential. Sunday mowing off and remarking may well be carried out by the club.
Should any more advice or assistance be required please do not hesitate to ask.

Kind regards,
Richard Mosdell
ECB Pitch Advisor for Wiltshire