Salter Oval curator Paul Denning prepares the pitch on the main oval for the first time this season.
Salter Oval curator Paul Denning prepares the pitch on the main oval for the first time this season. Max Fleet

Two months, main oval is ready

TWO months after the first ball of the season was bowled, Salter Oval curator Paul Denning can finally paint the creases on to the main field this weekend.

A fungus or poison that infected the pitch inhibited the ground staff from preparing a wicket any sooner, meaning the field has been out of action longer than the groundsman of 10 years can remember.

Last time it was used was in Wallaroos’ upset win against Brothers in September.

Six weeks ago, the square resembled a black mound of soil, but today the pitch and the outfield are top dollar.

Denning said last year’s preparation of the main oval was probably premature, so the Bundaberg Cricket Association executive, led by president Les Bennet, decided to be patient this year and avoid doing major damage.

After treatments of iron sulphate and gypsum, followed by consultation with a greenkeeper last week, the decision was made to prepare the pitch for tomorrow.

“We couldn’t have done much more to it than what we did,” Denning said.

“We still weren’t sure whether it was poisoning of some sort, or a fungus, but it has cleared well and should be a good deck come Saturday.”

Only tiny yellow spots remain on the pitch, but with another mow today it should appear healthy tomorrow.

A division two game between Alloway and Brothers Blue will play on number one tomorrow followed by a division three double header on Sunday.

“They will be the guinea pigs on the weekend, I’d say it will be a bit green, but this particular pitch on the square has always been batsman-friendly,” Denning said.

The experienced curator said signs were positive for coming years, with officials from the BRL and BCA agreeing to “get along”.

“It’s the first time we’ve really been agreeing since I’ve been here, so it will make the season’s transition much smoother from now on.”

In the past, league and cricket officials have been at loggerheads regarding the preferred state of the surface.

“It’s important to show courtesy to the cricket and make the curator’s job easier and, in turn, benefit both associations and Salter Oval,” BRL president Mal Breen said.



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