Managing Cricket Wickets

Cricket is a game of great cultural importance, and public interest across the UK,  Australia, India and beyond. 

The cricket pitch itself is integral to the game of cricket, but all too often overlooked unless it adversely affects the game. A poor pitch can take the bounce out of the ball and dulling an otherwise exciting contest. To understand this problem you need some insight into the game itself and how it is inextricably linked to the pitch - so to work in this field you need a very sound understanding of the game. . 

Where They Work

Cricket wicket managers may work for public instrumentalities (public sporting grounds), private sporting complexes, at schools, colleges and universities. Cricket wicket care and maintenance may be part of a broader job that involves general turf and grounds maintenance.

What They Do

Preparing and maintaining the pitch is an arduous task.  The pitch soil is heavy reactive clay. The clay mineral content and type influence the rate of hardening and cracking, as does the depth.

  • Prior to play moisture content is measured to ensure pace isn't affected
  • The pitch may be covered the surface with grass clippings or shade cloth to reduce moisture loss.
  • Syringing is sometimes used to restore moisture content. Once the match is underway, the pitch is not permitted to be watered.
  • During inclement weather the pitch may be covered to protect it from water infiltration

Other techniques used:

  • Rolling to ensure a hard surface
  • Verticutting of turf to remove thatch
  • Successive mowing to reduce height gradually and encourage root growth
  • Prior to play, the grass is cut low at 2 to 4mm
  • Care is taken to ensure the pitch doesn't crack due to overly dry conditions before play
  • When a match is underway, the pitch is mowed on each day that play takes place.
  • Debris is swept from the pitch, and foot holes made by batsmen and bowlers are filled or re-turfed.   
  • Pitches are alternated with 8 weeks ebtween each play to ensure quality

All this takes considerable planning, manpower and machinery. Not only that but when you factor in water, fertiliser, topdressing and pest and disease control, questions about sustainability naturally arise. 

What is Needed

A great cricket pitch manager can be just as important, and sought after just as much as a great cricket player. Creating and maintaining a good turf wicket requires a level of knowledge and skill that only comes through a good education in horticultural science and turf management, followed by years of experience. A turf wicket will only provide the best playing surface for the longest period, without being destroyed when its management is the very best. Wonderful career opportunities await anyone who has the interest and takes the time to develop those skills.


If you have a passion for cricket, or any other sport and want to work around that sport; perhaps a career in tutf is an option to be considered. You don't have to be a golfer to work in golf - there are lots of other jobs working in maintaining or managing golf courses. The same applies to football, croquet, lawn bowls, tennis; and of course cricket. You just need enthusiasm, skills and the right knowledge.

By John Mason Dip Hort Sc., FPLA, FIOH; and Gavin Cole B.Sc.
Horticulture Dept., ACS Distance Education.


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