A day in the life of Kent Cricket’s Head of Grounds

Monday 28th February 2022

A day in the life of Kent Cricket’s Head of Grounds

For Adrian Llong, cricket is a twelve-month commitment. Kent Cricket’s Head of Grounds, alongside the Club’s dedicated Ground Staff, has been working hard to produce yet more award-winning surfaces in the 2022 season.

The life of a member of Kent’s Ground Staff is a hardworking, but rewarding one, as Adrian runs us through a typical morning at this time of year:

“I’m lucky that I live in Ashford as that means I can afford to wake up at 05:30 in the morning on any given working day.

“Normally the Grounds Team is at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence at around 07:00-07:30, and if there’s no rain in the air, we’ll start to take the covers off the square and begin the day from there.

“Then we start our individual jobs – there’s usually three or four of us on site every day. There’s mowing, brushing and rolling to do every morning before the players come in for their pre-season training. Whilst training is going on, we’ll then mow the outfield.”

A temperature-controlled marquee has enabled Kent’s players to train outdoors during pre-season

This Winter has been another challenging one for Adrian and his Ground Staff, with two storms in quick succession hampering progress with the Club’s new marquee on the outfield to help with pre-season training.

“The two storms we had in February threatened our marquee, and we’ve had to repair some of it, but I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to get it completely repaired and operational again.

Steve Martin & Josh Marden remove practice nets at The Spitfire Ground

“It wasn’t just us that suffered through those storms, I know a lot of other Ground Staff across the country had a lot of issues over that week!”

Most other grounds teams, though, don’t have The Spitfire Ground’s infamous 12-foot slope to contend with on a daily basis.

“I’d like to think we’re experts at this, of course, but having our playing surface on an angle has its own set of challenges compared to, say, Beckenham.

“Water can be a huge issue all year round, even with our marquee for this pre-season. We’ve had to manage the movement of water from both rain and from when we water the surface inside the marquee, setting up metal barriers and saddles to control the flow of water in different places.

“Then there’s the outfield – we’ve spent a lot of time on improving drainage on the outfield this Winter – hiring in specialist equipment to sandband the outfield to improve the flow of water from what were, for want of a better phrase, ‘problem areas’ last season.”

Riley Nicholson pulls on the cover in Kent Women’s floodlit T20 at The Spitfire Ground

All of these potential issues may give rise to a sub-standard playing surface, but Adrian and his team enjoyed top pitch marks from ECB Match Referees across the 2022 season, and were rewarded with Adrian’s ECB One-Day Grounds Manager of the Year Award for 2021.

In preparation for the new season, the Club has invested over £36,000 in new machinery to improve drainage on the outfield at Canterbury, particularly at the Old Dover Road side of the ground.

However, The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence has regularly featured at the top of all pitch ratings and Adrian’s team have played their own part in building ‘Fortress Canterbury’, helping Kent on their way to their T20 triumph in 2021.

On winning his award, Adrian says: “Everyone across the county circuit works incredibly hard so to be given this honour is something special for us.

“It makes it that little bit more enjoyable because the team won the Vitality Blast and played some outstanding cricket along the way.

“We have our own challenges at Canterbury, but I’m lucky to work with some exceptionally good staff who always do a tremendous job.”

28 February – 6 March is #GroundsWeek, the Grounds Management Association’s week to highlight the successes of Grounds teams across all sports in the UK.

Find out more

 #GroundsWeek - 28 February – 6 March 2022

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