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Begin again

Preparing for cricket's return

Deepti Unni  |  

The head groundsman at Old Trafford mows the outfield in preparation for the West Indies Test series

The head groundsman at Old Trafford mows the outfield in preparation for the West Indies Test series © Getty Images

It's been a long three months without cricket and we've tried to fill our time looking back and looking forward, but as lockdowns ease, cricket is taking tentative - and experimental - steps towards a return, with West Indies landing in England for the first Test series since March this year.

But before players can don their whites and colours, there's work to be done on the field. Outfields need to be mown - at Old Trafford, for one, where West Indies team are settling into a lock-in at the biosecure ground to train.

How do you ensure the outfield remains just the right amount of green, through rain and frost and climate change? Some careful application of elbow grease ought to do it

Workers water and fertilise the turf at The Oval before the final match of the 1953 Ashes

Workers water and fertilise the turf at The Oval before the final match of the 1953 Ashes © Getty Images

Then there's the job of setting up outdoor nets so players can get in their daily practice safely.

Net gains: Alec Stewart gets his training in, even as the nets are set up for a 1996 World Cup match at the Bagh-e-Jinnah Stadium in Lahore

Net gains: Alec Stewart gets his training in, even as the nets are set up for a 1996 World Cup match at the Bagh-e-Jinnah Stadium in Lahore © Getty Images

How do you keep pesky pigeons from dive-bombing your perfectly prepared pitch? Former head groundman at The Oval, Bert Lock, had the perfect solution.

Frightening enough to keep birds and inquisitive fans away

Frightening enough to keep birds and inquisitive fans away © Getty Images

The scoreboards need painting. How much easier would it be if the players had names that were easy to spell? Electronic scoreboards? Where's the fun in that.

What do you mean you haven't heard of famous English players Andrew Fintoff and Jamesh Ormond

What do you mean you haven't heard of famous English players Andrew Fintoff and Jamesh Ormond © Getty Images

Don't forget the crease markings to keep the batsmen and bowlers in line.

A groundswoman at the P Sara Oval gives the crease a fresh lick of paint before Australia take on Pakistan in 2002

A groundswoman at the P Sara Oval gives the crease a fresh lick of paint before Australia take on Pakistan in 2002 © Getty Images

Gone are the days when the stumps were just three wooden spikes rammed into the ground. Now they're delicate pieces of electronic equipment that let you hear exactly what Tim Paine called Rishabh Pant at the MCG, and give you a batsmen's-knee view of what a delivery from Jofra Archer looks like when it's hurtling down at you.

Spike cam: they hear you nicking, they knowing

Spike cam: they hear you nicking, they knowing © Getty Images

You can tell a match hasn't begun yet from the state of the dressing room.

A place for everything and everything in its place: Joe Root's kit is set up and ready for demolition

A place for everything and everything in its place: Joe Root's kit is set up and ready for demolition © Getty Images

And let's not forget the most important bit of equipment in these current times without which not a ball will be bowled.

Will umpires have containers of sanitiser strapped to their belts now? Or will bowlers have to carry pocket-size bottles?

Will umpires have containers of sanitiser strapped to their belts now? Or will bowlers have to carry pocket-size bottles? © Getty Images

Deepti Unni is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

 

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