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December 8, 2009
Matt Merchant from Old Trafford has been named the 2009 Groundsman of the Year by the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Merchant's efforts for Lancashire enabled him to fend off his rivals in the four-day category, with Mick Hunt of Lord's picking up the runner-up prize. A commendation went to Andy Peirson (Canterbury) in the same category.
"The work of all head groundsmen is highly valued and we are delighted to make these annual awards which recognise the head groundsmen who have prepared the best pitches this season," Alan Fordham, head of operations for the ECB (First Class Cricket), said.
It is a notable achievement for Merchant, given it is his first season in charge at the club after spending 19 years on the staff under the stewardship of the former head groundsman Peter Marron, who retired last year.
"I'm obviously thrilled to have received this award in my first year in the position and it's recognition for the hard work and long hours the entire groundstaff team put in over the winter months and during a very wet and trying summer," Merchant said.
"Old Trafford has an excellent reputation for delivering first-class wickets that provide something for both batsmen and bowlers. A good wicket is what you always set out to achieve and I believe the competitiveness of the wicket at Old Trafford is one of the main reasons why cricketers want to play at this famous ground."
Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes said: "We are all delighted for Matt and it is fantastic reward in his first season as head groundsman, succeeding Peter Marron who of course was one of the most respected in the business."
Peter Moores, Lancashire's head coach, added: "Throughout the entire season Matt got the balance right between bat and ball. And in a season which was heavily affected by rain, the groundstaff worked tirelessly during fixtures to get as much cricket played as possible - something which was appreciated by all teams concerned."
Neil Godrich from Derby scooped the one-day award, beating off the challenges of Sean Williams of Bristol and Phil Frost of Taunton who shared the runner-up prize. Bill Gordon (The Oval), Paul Marshall (Northampton), Hunt (Lord's), and Nigel Gray (Rose Bowl) were commended in the one-day category.
John Moden at Fenner's is the winner for pitches at MCC Universities with Richard Sula at The Parks runner-up. Ross Spry at Cheltenham was awarded the Outgrounds prize with Micky Stewart and Christian Dunkerley at Scarborough earning the runner-up award.
All umpires rate the pitches at the end of each match and the winners of each category are those who achieve the highest average across the course of the season.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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