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The County Ground Outfield gets some much needed TLC!

Significant improvements in the clubs financial position over the last couple of years has enabled the club to get to work on some major post-season renovation of the outfield, under the watchful eye of the experienced David Powell , meaning a smoother and more level playing surface at Wantage Road next season– and hopefully shorter weather delays in the future.

The ambitious scheme – underlining Northamptonshire CCC’s ongoing commitment to improving playing facilities for the benefit of cricketers and spectators alike – saw much of the playing area ‘bald’ for a time as specialists tackled long-standing issues with the County Ground.

It amounted to one of the biggest restoration projects seen at Northampton in recent years, one which Northamptonshire’s Chief Executive, Ray Payne, was keen to implement:

“Rain delays are inevitable in Cricket but the outfield at Wantage Road had deteriorated to the point that those delays were becoming prolonged and disruptive to our Cricketing calendar.

“The opportunity to address this was an obvious choice for the club at the close of the season.”

Come next spring it will be back to its most pristine - and that's because of the work which commenced right at the start of the close-season.

Northamptonshire’s head groundsman Craig Harvey explained the process: 

“The grass on the outfield was all shallow-rooted which would explain all the dry spots throughout the field.

“The undulation was also an issue.  It meant that every time we had rain, the water would gather in one area and create little ponds.”

A major problem was the compacted soil which proved very difficult to break up and remove. .

“We tried various methods to no avail.  So then we bought in an American machine called a Harley Rake, which went down to a depth of five inches,” Craig adds.

“The bowler run ups were Laser levelled and then eventually the field was seeded and fertilised.  Some of the areas around the square were touched up by hand – and then on went the black germination sheets, along with a prayer for some rain!

“Needless to say it never rains when you want it to – so we spent the next eight days irrigating, and after 13 days the sheets came off.

“Looking ahead to pre-season, we’ll cut it to help thicken up the grass.  Then we’ll start to introduce important nutrients while it’s still relatively mild.”

For Northamptonshire supporters who popped into the club after the outfield’s grass layer had been removed, it gave an idea of what the County Ground must have looked like before Alfred Cockerill seeded it for cricket ahead of the opening fixture in May 1886.

Northamptonshire would like to thank Whitworth Bros.Ltd and to Sports and Stadia for their support with this project.

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