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Grace Road looked a picture throughout the 2013 season, and the efforts of Head Groundsman Andy Ward and his team have not gone unnoticed.
Andy and this team of Simon Brown, Chris Skinner, Callum Lewin and Tom Bradley-Smith, have won the ECB’s prize for having the best one-day pitches in the country in 2013.
It is a fantastic accolade in recognition of all of their ongoing hard work, and Andy picked up the trophy on behalf of the team at a recent awards ceremony at Edgbaston.
He said: “I’m very proud that we’ve won the award. We faced stiff competition, including the test match grounds, so I think we’ve done really well to win it. I’m really proud of the whole team, it is a good reward for all of the hard work they have put in. It has made us all smile.
“The Club has invested in a new outfield, and also equipment to help make our jobs a lot easier, like a new roller. I’m pleased that has paid off for us. We have put time and money into getting things as good as we can, and this is a nice reward.
“The two games that really stood out in my mind are Gloucestershire and Somerset, which were superb Leicestershire wins. But there were good games throughout the season and lots of one-day hundreds were scored. The wickets did not offer much in way of seam or spin, and the batsmen enjoyed them.
“But even though we have had success, we will also look at how to improve. Sometimes one thing that favours one-day pitches doesn’t favour the four-day pitches. The pitches at Grace Road don’t tend to turn a great deal, for example.”
Every pitch is rated at the end of the match by each of the umpires with these ratings used as the basis for making the awards. Andy explains that dealing with umpires is an important part of the job.
He said: “We look closely at the umpires’ reports and I always talk to them. It’s good to know what they are thinking as they are very knowledgeable and travel all over the country. Even on one of the low-scoring games against Yorkshire in t20, the umpires felt it was a good pitch.
“We were also fortunate with the weather. In some senses, there is always fortune around how pitches will play as overhead conditions and rain can play a big part in the preparation or on the day. We had good conditions last season.”
The winners of the awards were as follows: Matthew Merchant from Emirates Old Trafford was the winner of the four-day category with Andy Fogarty from Headingley taking the runner-up prize. In the one-day category, Andy took the main award and the runner-up prize was awarded to the Emirates Durham ICG's David Measor.
Commendations went to Stuart Kerrison (Chelmsford), Steve Birks (Trent Bridge) and Mick Hunt (Lord's) in the four-day pitch category, while Andy Fogarty (Headingley) and Simon Lee (Taunton) were commended in the one-day category.
John Moden from Fenner’s, Cambridge, was the winner for pitches at MCC Universities with Will Relf at Loughborough the runner-up. John Dodds at Scarborough was awarded the Outgrounds prize.