Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    Cricket pitches: An easy guide on why they behave like they do

    A little bit of sporting history is being made this summer, with the first day/night cricket test match ever to be played in England taking place at Edgbaston in Birmingham from 17-21 August.

    The England v West Indies match will be played between 2pm and 9pm, not the usual time of 11am to 6pm.

    It sparked a discussion here about how it might affect the wicket and how it plays over the full five days. And that got us to thinking: What makes some pitches good for batting while others are more helpful to bowlers? And what makes for a seaming or a spinning pitch?

    There are other factors at play as well as the pitch. How a wicket plays can also be affected by weather conditions and the state of the ball, ie if it’s a shiny new ball, or a ball that’s shiny and hard one side and worn on the other, or a 70-over ball that’s completely soft and worn.

    And, of course, how the bowlers use their skills in manipulating the ball is the No 1 factor.

    With these caveats in mind, and avoiding all of the scientific gobbledegook you can find elsewhere, here’s a simplified explanation of the key principles of how and why a cricket pitch behaves the way it does:

    Pace: Why are some pitches traditionally good for fast bowlers?

    Hard cricket pitches – such as the WACA ground in Perth, Australia - help the ball to fly off the surface at pace and with good bounce. But pitches with some green in them can also be fast as they allow the new ball to skid off the surface.

    Seam & swing movement: How does the pitch contribute to it?

    Cricket pitches with more grass on them assist swing bowling (ball moves in the air) and seam bowling (ball moves off the seam after pitching) by causing the ball to behave more erratically. It’s not just the extra grass that does this, but the moisture in the pitch.

    Spin: What creates a spinning wicket?

    Cricket pitches generally start to spin when they’ve become worn and dusty, so spinners tend to have an increasing role to play as the game progresses. A dry, worn pitch will develop cracks that the spin bowler can pitch the ball into. However, the ball will also spin on a pitch that has moisture in it and then starts to dry out.

    Why is this even important? Here’s why …

    Captains and coaches can select their team based on what the wicket is telling them. And the big question for any cricket captain who wins the toss is: Shall we bat first or bowl first? Over a 5-day test match, assessing the wicket at the outset can be fraught with peril. Their decision will also be influenced by the weather conditions. But, as a very basic rule of thumb, here’s what generally happens:

    Dry conditions and dry wicket = bat first. It also means they get to bowl last on a potentially spinning wicket.

    Overcast conditions and a pitch with some green and moisture in it = bowl first to get the most out of favourable conditions.

    Clear as mud? Quite possibly. But reading a cricket pitch isn’t an exact science, far from it. It all adds the air of mystery and sheer unpredictability of the game. And we wouldn’t want it any other way!

  • 8 top tips on keeping your lawn healthy during the summer

     

    8 top tips on keeping your lawn healthy during the summer Beautiful view on a lawn in sunny day, fresh green grass lawn in sunlight, landscaping in the garden, beauty of summer season

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    August: Long hot days, fun in the sun, summer holidays with family and friends. What’s not to love?

    But for our lawns, this is the time of year when they can really struggle without some regular TLC.

    The good news is that most lawns will recover fully from a drought or a dry spell. Even if lawns turn brown and dry during the summer months, they usually recover as soon as the rains return.  It would take an extremely severe drought to kill off your lawn completely.

    However, it’s still advisable to do a few simple things to protect your lawn from the worst effects of dry weather.

    We’ve compiled a list of 8 top tips to help your lawn survive and thrive.

    1 – Don’t mow so low

    Raising the height of the cut helps to avoid weakening the grass.

    2 – Mow less frequently

    Allow your grass to grow a bit longer. You could even include an area of butterfly and bee-friendly meadow flowers and just sit back and enjoy them during the height of summer.

    3 – Don’t be so tidy

    Yes, you did read that correctly! Avoid the temptation to clear away the grass clippings when you mow as they will act as mulch and help to retain any moisture in the soil for longer. Take care to ensure the clippings are nice and small so that they don’t smother and damage the grass.

     4 – Give your lawn a drink

    Water the lawn every 7-10 days (if water restrictions permit), but don’t over-do it. Too much water isn’t just wasteful, it’s potentially damaging. It also makes the lawn less drought-tolerant, so in the event of a hosepipe ban, when watering isn’t an option, it will deteriorate more rapidly.

    5 – Get your timings right

    Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening. Watering in the hottest part of the day will increase evaporation.

    6 – Nip it in the bud

    Water when the soil gets dry, but before the grass starts to change colour. The grass will usually stop growing and start to go brown when the top 10cm of soil dries out.

    7 – Use your fork

    If the ground has become very hard, aerate it with a fork before watering to help the water to sink in.

    8 – Work out how much water your lawn needs

    Ensure that the water reaches a depth of 10cm. You can do this by testing some areas a few hours after watering. You’ll soon learn how much water your lawn needs and how long to leave your sprinkler on.

    9 … And relax!

    We thought we’d add this 9th tip because this is the time of year to be out enjoying your garden and making the most of the summer weather.

    If you follow the dry weather advice, there’s every chance you won’t need to repair or relay your lawn in the autumn. If you have encountered problems, then you might want to consider relaying your lawn with drought-resistant grass mixes.

    And remember: Prevention is better than cure. By having a maintenance programme this autumn and next spring, your lawn will be in great shape for summer 2018, too.

    Ask our experts: Get in touch to learn how to achieve the best height cut from your mower during a dry spell.

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