Groundsman delivers man-of-the-day display

Nigel Gray's blue army work hard keep the Rose Bowl pitch dry
Nigel Gray's blue army work hard keep the Rose Bowl pitch dry
Andrew Gorvin bowling for Havant.  Picture: Neil Marshall (171025-5)

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Nigel Gray laid claim to a man-of-the-day award after proving he is the king of speedy pitch preparation.

The long-serving Rose Bowl groundsman shot to fame on t20 finals day last year when he was tasked with trotting out to re-mark a crease for emergency runner Jimmy Adams ahead of the deciding ball of the nail-biting final.

But all eyes were again on Gray and his team as heavy showers swept across the Rose Bowl on day one of the Test, with spectators waiting patiently for action.

Gray and his team of 13 staff – some of whom were drafted in from the adjacent golf course – got to work on the pitch swiftly and the groundsman was happy with the efforts of his men.

He said: ‘It’s been hard work but it’s one of those days that you get in cricket. Sometimes it rains!

‘It’s a Test match and all the rest of it, so it’s unfortunate but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

‘I didn’t feel under any extra pressure to get it mopped up. You just do the best you can.

‘Because of the occasion, we’ve got some extra staff on so you can clean it up quicker.

‘It takes some of the strain off a little bit.

‘You think “oh, here we go” when you see the weather forecast so it was always on the cards.

‘We got the covers on quickly and the square stayed dry, while the outfield is good and drains well.

‘These things happen and you have to get on with it.’

Gray was thankful for the assistance of a hired extra blotter – a machine to soak up the surface water.

And he is pleased with the Test pitch he has prepared, despite Sri Lanka’s early struggles with the bat.

He said: ‘I’m happy with the pitch. It’s got some good pace and bounce.

‘It was nipping around a bit because it’s been under the covers and a bit of moisture has got on to the surface.

‘I think both captains would have bowled if they had won the toss, which you would expect with the weather.

‘But I think it’s played pretty well.

‘We’ve got as much cricket in as we could have done. It was just a shame the showers were pretty heavy ones.

‘Hopefully, it will get better as the match goes on.’