Summer is upon us and the sweltering Aussie heat calls for one thing and one thing only: backyard cricket. Whether you’re a novice or not, you can easily up the ante for some family fun by creating a backyard cricket pitch worthy of Warney’s spins. Let us show you how!
Steps to setting up the perfect backyard cricket pitch
Preparation is King
A little preparation is all it takes to ensure you’re scoring 6s in your backyard come summer time. Before you begin, you need to ensure you’re working in a space with a healthy covering of grass. Spring and summer time are the best bet, as this is when the grass is in an active growing phase. For this reason, it’s best to avoid mowing in the pitch during winter.
Our turf-loving experts recommend couch style turf as the perfect base for your pitch, and hardy varieties with ultra-fast self-repair rates like our TifTuf can be mown low and recover quickly when they are actively growing. Kikuyu and buffalo work well too, however be sure not to mow too low with buffalo as, unlike couch, its growth system does not include rhizomes to produce grass shoots below the cover, so regrowth can be a headache.
Choosing the top spot
Placement of the pitch is important and you should also consider how the space will be used. The more space the better (obviously) but if your players are younger, this won’t be as important. If yard space is tight, consider running the pitch on an angle or having it pushed as far back as possible so bowlers can get a good run-up. And because we don’t want any smashed windows - also consider the direction of play. Have a look at where the batsman might hit and make sure windows and cars will stay out of the firing line.
Every backyard space will have its own unique characteristics that give your pitch and game personality, whether it’s beside a shed, or underneath a hills hoist or a big leafy tree. The best spot might also offer an automatic wicket-keeper, this could be a wall or a fence or even in front of the garage. If it’s not a possibility, the trusty wheelie bin is always a classic option.
Mowing in your pitch
It’s important to get the lawn on the pitch nice and short - for bounce and of course so it more closely resembles the MCG. If you’re ultra-serious, using string lines will help create a professional cut and a cylinder mower will provide a beautiful, lightly rolled surface.
To achieve the low cut, pristine pitch of your dreams, lower the height of the mower blades, but make sure you don’t mow down to the dirt which would be catastrophic for both your cricketing goals as well as your turf. Depending on the thickness of the grass, you may have to go over this a few times with the mower. Also, remember to keep the catcher on to ensure the surface is smooth and free of clippings.
Now that your pitch is perfect, it’s time to set up for a match. Wooden stumps or bails can be knocked straight into the ground at the end of the pitch you decided on earlier to ensure windows and cars don’t end up as cricket collateral. Metal stumps can also be placed in position, but if you don’t have the hardware, create a quick set of stumps by taping duct tape or masking tape to a wall or fence. Some marking paint will do the trick for the all-important crease (hot tip: use the full length of the bat, including the handle, to measure out the length of the crease).
Now all you have to do is pick your team and figure out who is batting first!
Caring for your pitch
Once tea break is called it’s important to give your pitch some care. Aerating and deep soaking are the first steps, and mowing it regularly will keep it looking its best. Regular fertilising schedules and filling in any holes or low spots are important too and depending on how excessive the wear and tear is, consider giving the pitch some recovery time.
Coolabah’s Backyard Cricket Rules
First ball not out, one-hand-one-bounce, and if the dog gets hold of the ball, it’s the bowler’s job to wipe off the slobber.
For more helpful lawn care tips or advice, or to invite us over for a game of backyard cricket, get in touch today.