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Paull’s pitch perfect

Saturday, 12th October, 2013

Curator Jarrod Paull makes the final pitch inspection at the Alma Oval ahead of the first game of the season.  PICTURE: Ethan James Curator Jarrod Paull makes the final pitch inspection at the Alma Oval ahead of the first game of the season. PICTURE: Ethan James

By By Ethan James

There’s more to creating a cricket pitch than meets the eye, as local curator Jarrod Paull can tell you.

An avid player himself, Paull has been putting the finishing touches to the Alma Oval pitch for the beginning of the season today.

He is one of six Broken Hill Council apprentices and two tradesmen who have been learning how to manage and prepare wickets.

“It started about seven and a half years ago, halfway through our apprenticeship,” he said.

“It was all on paper to start with but once that was done ... we used to take the maintenance in turns in one week blocks.”

A few tips from legendary curator Les Burdett proved crucial in the education process.

Paull met the world-renowned Burdett, who was head curator of the Adelaide Oval for 32 years, at a seminar in Sydney.

“He was awesome. We actually ran into him in the elevator in the hotel when we were there, so got the chance to have a few beers with him as well.

“He taught us about different types of fertilising programs and little things like that to help the pitches recover that little bit better each week.”

To keep a pitch in prime condition, a fine balance between watering, fertilising, mowing and rolling must be found to ensure the surface stays in top shape.

“I was told basically to treat it like play dough. So, we wet it down, put a heavy roller to squeeze the moisture out to make sure it’s as hard as possible,” said Paull.

“We also had to create a buffer zone on the field to prevent the grass from the field getting mixed up with the pitch.

“If that happened, the root systems would get mixed up and it would make it hard to get bounce.

“We usually mow it to about four millimetres, so they start around 8 to 10 and then end up at four.

“Most of the pitches you could play a few days on but all the games in Broken Hill are one-day matches. We just play on one pitch and then start the process again.”

Paull captains the A Grade Central team which he will lead into battle today against West in a rematch of last season’s grand final.

But his knowledge of the pitch doesn’t necessarily equate to an extra edge on the field. 

“You can’t hide little bouncing spots in the pitch or anything like that, unfortunately,” he laughed.

“Each team has got a few good batsman and a few good bowlers so it’s pretty even.”

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