DEVELOPMENT FROM THE GROUND UP

ACC Agronomy Consultant Visits

(Agronomy = soil management. An agronomist is an expert in soil management.)

The ACC and NZSTI have conducted country assignments in each of the member countries since 2001 (with the exception of Myanamar, for which a visit is scheduled in the near future). Agronomist visits are generally made at the recommendation of the Development Officers, or following a request made to the ACC by the member country.

Visits are customized to suit the specific needs of the member country, and can address issues such as construction specifications through to giving advice on maintenance and pitch preparation.

NZSTI’s Mark Hooker (centre) in Qatar, October 2004

With their stretch from the deserts of the Middle East to the altitudes and northerly latitudes of Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan to the tropical climes of South East Asia, ACC member countries pose a great number of challenges to the region’s curators and groundsmen.

The holy grail is that perfect playing surface which provides bounce and pace and allows for turn – ‘a proper cricket wicket’. Curators therefore, search for that ideal mix of clay, silt and sand with which to work.

The Middle East countries such as the UAE and Kuwait favour Karachi clay for its ready availability whereas Malaysia and Singapore for example opt for an Australian clay (Darwin) as it has so many of the same characteristics as those which are used in the international grounds of Australia.

The Maldives also being a coral atoll, don’t even have any clay to call their own so have had to import every ounce of cricket playing surface from outside the islands.

The Maldives sole turf wicket, January 2007

As such, top-flight technical assistance is a necessity for the various factors influencing pitch preparation are numerous.

Common features of problem pitches

Next Page Rahul Dravid: “There were a lot of empty plots where you could clean up the plot and play a game of cricket.”