An investigation of selected soil properties influencing the management and playability of New Zealand cricket pitches : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Horticultural Science in soil science, Massey University
The 1980's has been a period of growth for New Zealand cricket. The advent of the one day game plus international success has developed spectator interest and support to an unprecedented level.
Cricket is certainly one game where player performance is very much dependent on the surface provided. It is perhaps fair to say that the standard of many New Zealand first class pitches has not allowed the development of entertaining cricket. As a result, pitches have been the target of increasing criticism from spectators, administrators, and players 'alike.
Cricket pitch preparation has been said to be an 'art'. But the groundsman has limited scope to practice the art if the suitability of the soil used for pitch preparation is wanting.
In an attempt to gain an understanding of the contribution of soil properties to good pitch preparation, the New Zealand Cricket Council and Soil Bureau of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) provided funding for a research programme. It was hoped that improved playability and pitch performance could be achieved by combining the 'art' of pitch preparation with sound scientific principles.
The objectives of the research programme were:
1. To develop and standardise a set of laboratory procedures aimed at selecting soils and characterizing their suitability for cricket pitches.
2. To establish a comprehensive inventory of physical and chemical soil properties for a number of current pitch soils which can be used as a reference for selection of new pitch soils.
3. To relate sound scientific principles to field management techniques and pitch performance in an attempt to assist the groundsman with pitch preparation.
4. To investigate the contributions of
playability, and their interactions with soil properties.
5. To elucidate the value of the nuclear moisture-density method for in situ measurement of pitch soil water content and bulk density.
6. To develop and implement a soil monitoring system for groundsmen who can then use it to evaluate changes in soil properties during pitch preparation. This would allow the development of specific management programmes for individual venues.
7. To suggest areas for future research.
To meet these objectives a preliminary study (Cameron-Lee, 1984) was carried out to identify three soil parameters, namely clay content, clay type, and pitch soil profile, which affect pitch performance. An expansion of the findings of the preliminary study form the basis of this research programme.
This investigation incorporated a field trial using four soils commonly known as the Palmerston North1 , St John, Ward, and Kakanui. The soils have different chemical and physical properties. They are all currently in use throughout New Zealand on first class pitches. In addition, three pitch soils, namely the Marton, Redhill and Naike were evaluated, along with the field trial soils in the laboratory to provide a greater comparative analysis of pitch soil properties.