November 24, 2000

Turf manager has World Cup pitches ready to go

Fine weather in Christchurch recently has been just what CricInfo Women's World Cup groundsman Karl Johnson was wanting.

Working in liaison with his trainee turf manager Mike Robins and Hagley Oval groundsman Tom O'Carroll, the trio have responsibility for the three grounds to be used over the next month.

"We're on target. As long as we get rain at night and fine weather during the day we don't mind.

"We've done a lot of cross rolling on the pitches to set everything up for the tournament and over the next few days we'll just be finishing off the pitches," he said.

Johnson said O'Carroll is right on target at Hagley where he has had added complications of having to prepare pitches for World Cup warm-up games and club cricket.

"But he has been doing the business for a long time and has produced very good wickets over the years," he said.

Two pitch blocks are being used at Hagley, one is of the same Waikari clay used at Brierley Oval and Lincoln Green and the other is of Heathcote clay which has different qualities.

However, Johnson is expecting no problems with any of the pitches.

"We've been covering each of the wickets for the last 10 nights and all of the wicket blocks are now in a controlled environment. The north-westerly winds we have had keep us on our toes because they can dry things out quickly," he said.

Landscaping, especially at the Brierley Oval, had been a mammoth task and is still being finished off.

"This is a crucial time for me over the next three days but there is no reason why we shouldn't be up and ready," he said.

"From my pitch monitoring I know where my moisture and density levels are at the moment.

"The pitches will have good bounce and good carry. The pitches are all traditionally good," he said.

The practice pitches at Burnham Military Camp were also in great condition.

"I visited Burnham and their turf manager Norm Avis this week and their wicket blocks are looking absolutely superb.

"Their support for New Zealand Cricket has been so brilliant out there. They have gone out of their way to help and each team has scheduled practice times.

"The practice schedule is a mini-tournament on its own," Johnson said.

The support of John Deere had also been vital in the preparation. The provision of outfield mowers, wicket mowers, tractors and utility vehicles had helped create superb outfield conditions.

"The outfields are brilliant, we are even catching the outfield clippings. We are treating the outfields like a golf green," he said.

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