Wormsley Cricket – New Square update

23rd February 2020

We’re delighted to give an update on the new Square here at Wormsley and some of our wider plans as far as cricket is concerned.

The original square was laid 28 years ago, and the first game on the new ground was fittingly between two local villages that border the Estate – Ibstone v Fingest on Sunday 10th May 1992. The Sir Paul Getty ground was officially opened on Sunday 24th May 1992 by Bob Wyatt (England Captain – 40 caps) who rang the Wormsley Bell and Fred Trueman (67 England caps) who raised the Wormsley Flag. The Sir Paul Getty XI played host to the MCC, watched by Her Majesty The Queen Mother and the then Prime Minister, Sir John Major. Since then, Wormsley has witnessed some amazing cricket, welcomed legends of the game and quietly developed a reputation as “one of the most beautiful grounds in the world”. We are hugely proud to receive such accolades and know that they come largely as a result of the unseen work of our amazing ground staff, under the leadership of Simon Tremlin. Wormsley has become a special corner of the world cricketing landscape and it’s not unusual for greats of the game to list Wormsley in their top 4 or 5 grounds that they’ve played at across the world.

Over the last couple of years, we have started to turn our attention to the future and to the development of a plan to ensure that Cricket at Wormsley is in an even stronger position in another 30 years’ time. A key part of this future plan revolves around the Square. We’re enjoying more cricket at Wormsley than ever, ranging from hosting International Training camps (Afghanistan), International Cricket (England’s Women), Representative Cricket (National Counties & Oxfordshire), Charity Days (Lord’s Taverners), Private games, the very important Villages games for Stokenchurch, Ibstone & Turville and of course the world-renowned Sir Paul Getty invitational XIs (Men and Women). We’re also working on an exciting plan with Middlesex CCC that will see the amount of Representative cricket at Wormsley increase significantly over the next 5 years. To ensure that we’re able to support this increase in matches, we embarked on a program last Autumn to refresh and extend the Square. The final match on the old Square, against Eton Ramblers produced 597 runs and fittingly resulted in a win for the Sir Paul Getty XI with Gloucestershire CCC batsman, Ian Cockbain scoring 154*, and Chairman of the Wormsley Cricket Committee, Chris St. George, scoring the winning run in making 106*. The following day the excavators moved in!

Over the course of the next 4 days, the Square was topped, re-laid, levelled and seeded – as well as extended from 8 pitches to 12. On Day one, we welcomed Keith Exton from Perfect Pitches, and his Koro Field Top Maker, to remove the top 8mm of the old Square and to leave a clean base to work with. On Day 2 Simon and his ground staff team then laid over 200 tonnes of new soil/loam and adjusted the level of the extended square. Interestingly, the new Square now has exactly the same drop as Lord’s – 50mm per pitch – from the top of the Square closest to the Pavilion to the bottom of the Square, nearest the Scoreboard. On Day 3 Gordon Gill, who has worked with Simon previously on end-of-season pitch repair projects, arrived with his specialist tractor-mounted laser-leveller / grader and spent the next day and a half going up and down over the square, levelling the whole area to an accuracy of 3mm. Simon’s team then top-dressed and seeded the new square, with the whole project finished by mid-afternoon on Day 4.

Since the end of September, the new grass has taken well and now has perfect coverage. The Square has over-wintered well, taking into consideration the atrocious weather that’s been hitting the country, with record rainfalls in the last few weeks. Looking from a distance, unless you knew the Square had been re-laid you wouldn’t know the difference from any normal year! The team is now starting the pre-season preparation program.

The wider plan is to incorporate new hybrid pitch technology into four of the new wickets. From the inception of the project, Simon has been in consultation throughout the process with fellow groundmen at a number of the Test Match and County Grounds and Dr Iain James, cricket pitch specialist at TGMS Ltd. This has allowed us to incorporate the latest best practices in soil composition and to discuss key elements such as playability, durability, maintenance and post installation care of hybrid wickets.

Hybrid pitches have now been approved for use in the Royal London One Day Cup, Vitality Blast and all formats of Second XI cricket and provides improved surface stability, reduced wear, reduced bowler foot holes and significantly extended hours of playing time. The ECB became the first to install two trial wickets using SISGrass technology at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough. The pitches combine a majority of natural turf grass with less than 5% of uniquely engineered, soft polyethylene yarn. One 10ft cricket pitch contains approximately 190,000 individual stitches of SISGrass fibre, made up of 46kg of yarn, totalling 38km. After installation, pitches will be maintained for a minimum of eight weeks to allow the profile to settle and for all holes to close and anchor the fibres.

Hybrid cricket pitches have now been installed at Surrey, Lord’s, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Glamorgan, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Durham, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and at Loughborough University.

The new hybrid pitches are due to be installed at the beginning of April and we have delayed the start of our season until the beginning of June to allow for the new Square and the four hybrid pitches to bed-in.

Simon Tremlin, Head Groundsman says, “This is a hugely exciting time for cricket at Wormsley, with a growing number of matches and the strategic partnership that is developing with Middlesex CCC.” Alistair Cane, Head of Marketing at Wormsley continues, “Fundamentally, the significant investment that we’re making in the square and the ground as a whole is driven by our desire to protect and build upon the Legacy that Sir Paul Getty started 28 years ago, when he first envisioned cricket at Wormsley.” Simon Tremlin concludes “I’d like to think that Sir Paul would be looking down proudly at the steps we’re taking and he would be delighted to see Wormsley playing host to International teams, Middlesex CCC, the National Counties, Oxfordshire Cricket and the various Charities that raise significant funds through their cricket days on the Estate. He would be extremely pleased that the Sir Paul Getty XI is going from strength to strength, and continues to be represented by a number of ex-England players, he would be delighted to see the creation of the Sir Paul Getty Women’s XI two years ago and I suspect what would give him the greatest satisfaction is to know that the villages that boarder the Estate still remain the guests of Wormsley for their annual President’s Day matches.”

2020 should be an exciting year, as you’ll see when we publish our fixtures for the season at the end of February – we’ll have around 25 days cricket this season and expect this to rise to over 40 days over the next couple of years as we extend our program.

We will once again this season, be offering a limited number of Wormsley Cricket Memberships. This allows members to enjoy all matches at Wormsley (not just public games) from their own enclosure, with complimentary light refreshments. For more information, please email alistair.cane@wormsley.com

We look forward to welcoming you to Wormsley in the summer!