Worcestershire CCC’s current Head Groundsman Tim Packwood this weekend celebrate 30 years service at Blackfinch New Road.
Tim first linked up with the County in April 1989 as an assistant working under the then Head Groundsman, Roy McLaren.
He says Roy was the ideal person to learn the ropes off and, after he retired in July 2000, Tim took over at the helm for the rest of the season and was permanently appointed into his current role for the following season.
Here he looks back over his three decades in a Question And Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: What does it mean to complete 30 years service on the Worcestershire CCC ground-staff?
Tim Packwood: “I’m very proud. It is my hometown club, Worcester born and bred, a lifelong fan. I used to come here from about the age of 10 to watch with my mum and my brother and was always keen on cricket.
“A vacancy came up for a junior groundsman in 1989 which I applied for under Roy McLaren. I went on a couple of courses but most of the experience was hand-on. Roy taught me a great deal, then he retired part of the way through the 2000 season.
“I took over for a probationary period for three months and providing I felt I could do the job and the club were happy with the job I did, then Mark Newton (CEO) said ‘the job was yours’ and the rest is history.”
Question: Has the job changed much over the years?
Tim Packwood: “It has changed a great deal. Every ball now is scrutinised. There is a camera behind the bowler’s arm at both ends. The pitch marking system has become more elaborate, stricter.
“But even the net area has altered. When I first started, the net area was all about players getting their feet moving. We’d use sheets in the middle that would last three or four years and, once they were coming to the end of their life span, we’d move them into the net area.
“If they leaked the players just put up with it but now, whatever we do in the middle, has to be replicated in the net area.”
Question: Has the preparation for a season during the winter altered much?
Tim Packwood: “Not a great deal has changed. You still do the same process, your pre-season rolling, your end of season work.
“The only change is when I first started here on April 14, 1989, the players had only been back for a week and a half. They did not report back until the first Monday in April and then the first games weren’t until the back end of April.
“Now from the middle of March we’ve already been covering an area in the nets so they were ready for use when the players came back from Abu Dhabi.”
Question: Is it important that ground-staff have a good communication with the coaching staff and players?
Tim Packwood: “Communication is the key in this. I had a sit down with Giddo (Alex Gidman) and Alan (Richardson) the other day and went through the pitch plan for the summer.
“Basically the more information that I can give to them about a wicket….before a game now we are taking readings which tells you how hard or how firm the wicket is and the moisture readings.
“In the past, I’ve collated this information and kept it together but now we are looking at a way where we can use these figures to try and give more info to the coaches and hopefully the home team a bit more of an advantage in terms of how the pitch might play.
“Of the 15 pitches we can play first class cricket on, nine of those have been dug up between 1987 and 1991 and we had three pitches drilled and filled in September 2009 so they are all different depths of soils so it is not a square where every wicket is identical.
“They all have different characteristics and, even though I have been head groundsman for 18 years, you are still learning off every pitch. It is good. I enjoy what I do.”
Question: Presumably the biggest challenge is the obvious one – the floods which occur from time to time?
Tim Packwood: “That is the biggest challenge but it’s a view we’ve got as a club that if it floods, you wait for it to go, assess things and just carry on
“We had a bit of water on the ground recently but, to me, a flood is something that is four or five feet deep. I tend to class ‘floods’ like last year and this year as a big puddle!”
Question: What are your memories of the great flood of 2007?
Tim Packwood: “It was just disappointing because we always felt we could get some cricket back on and it was devastating from a club’s point of view but, in time, we can rebuild and put it behind us.
“What put it into perspective for me was people along the riverbank who had water in their house and were affected 12-18 months down the road.”
Question: There must have been some humorous moments?
Tim Packwood: “The funniest thing I can remember is we went on for a rain delay one day and we are rushing around pegging the sheets down.
“Suddenly Martin (Watts) fell over and we were a bit concerned and thought he had hurt himself.
“But then we realised he had put the peg through the cover sheet but also through his tracksuit bottoms so when he went to move he went flying!”
Questions: Is everything on course for the new season?
Tim Packwood: “The winter has gone well. The end of season renovation to the square did not start until October with cricket being played right through to the last Sunday of September.
“I’m really happy with the way the outfield has come on and the square looks really good. As the temperatures pick up now, I just want to over-seed a few areas.
“With the warm temperatures this winter, we’ve been cutting two or three times a month which is normally unheard of.”