Worcestershire CCC head groundsman Tim Packwood and his staff will step up preparations from next week to ensure the net areas at New Road are in ideal condition for when the players report back on March 22 after the pre-season tour of Abu Dhabi.

Tim, who has been at the helm since 2001, is delighted to have so far experienced a second flood free winter for the second time in three years.

It is a contrast to exactly 12 months ago to the day when the ground became covered in water and, as things stand, all 15 wickets on the square could come under consideration to stage the first home game versus Northamptonshire on April 21.

Soon verti-draining of the outfield will be underway and here Tim outlines how preparations are progressing for the new season in a Question and Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.

Question: What is the latest position with the ground, is it looking good?

Tim Packwood – "Luckily so far, touchwood, we haven't had a flood come across the ground. It was very warm and dry from October through until Christmas and the grass on the square, outfield and net area has come back really well.

"Since Christmas we've had quite a few frosts and it has turned pretty damp. It is looking good out there although we've not been able to get near the square for four or five weeks.

"It is crying out for a bit of fertiliser just to give it a bit of a feed and a bit of perk-up but, like I said, I've got to be happy because so far we've been flood free."

Question: So what is the next step now?

Tim Packwood: "The plan is to have the verti drain of the outfield (to allow oxygen into the roots).

"As of next week, we will start to cover over four bays (wickets) in a forty foot area in the net area because the lads report back of March 22.

"We need that length of time to be able to start to keep it dry. We will start with the light rollers next week, pre-season rolling, that area in the nets to get it ready for when the players want to use it.

"We've got a bit more time as regards the square because we don't play our first home game until the back end of April.

"We will put a little bit of fertiliser out there and probably just stay off that for another couple of weeks, let the fertiliser kick in and strengthen the grass a little bit, before we actually get underway doing things in the middle."

Question: So overall you are happy with how things are going?

Tim Packwood: "Yes, there are a couple of areas we might have to over-seed on the square where it was a little bit of a dry spell and then we had some heavy rain which just washed away a bit of the seed about.

"But I've got to be happy because this week exactly a year ago the water had just come completely across the ground.

"I always say 'wouldn't it be nice not to have a flood' so at this stage, to have got to so far with no flooding, I'm definitely happy."

Question: It would be the second winter out of three with no flooding?

Tim Packwood: "I'm not going to say it makes the job easy but it does obviously make it easier that you haven't then got to worry about over-seeding and hoping that grass will come through on wickets in time to play on them.

"You could look at the square now and pick anyone of 15 wickets to play your first game of the season on."

Question: Last year was a new challenge for all groundsmen with the new 'toss' rule. How did that effect preparations for you?

Tim Packwood: "I think it worked pretty well to be fair. I think at the start of the season coaches, directors of cricket and groundsmen generally probably aired a little bit on the side of caution and the wickets probably were a bit bland.

"But as the season progressed, everyone got used to the new rule and we were starting to leave a little bit more grass on, again not probably as much as when there was the toss.

"It made for entertaining cricket towards the middle and back end of the season.

"Again, you want to leave that bit of live grass on so the ball carries through but you also don't want to leave too much on so opposition benefit, put you into bat and you are five wickets down for nothing at lunch-time."