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Cricket Nets (Stage 3) PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Soede   
Monday, 14 January 2008

Another update on the Tungstens Northern Nets - since the last update I have laid the artificial turf (had to wait most of December due to rain), painted in the creases, removed the existing turf, increased dirt levels around pitch with a gentle slope to the pitch edge, re-laid the removed turf, and today placed the posts and crossbars into position.

After weeks of rain and courier stupidity I finally get the synthetic turf to the pitch

Synthetic Turf has a nap, where the blades of grass slope slightly towards one end. It's important to lay it with this nap pointing away from the bowler so the ball doesn't dig in and bounce dangerously. Although I could have laid the synthetic turf in one go - as only one end has a bowlers runup - I elected to cut and lay 2 pieces from the centre out towards ends, as all pitches are done, so I can use the normal bowling end to face spinners operating at the usual batting end, or perhaps a bowling machine, to even out the wear and tear in the grass. I cleaned the pitch using a blower before glueing.

The glueing is done with a notched trowel to spread a contact adhesive on the concrete before rolling the turf on top of it and then spreading with a broom. I used a gal pole as a roller to get rid of air pockets which worked beautifully. You do 2 to 3 metres at a time, ensuring the turf runs straight (even overlap of side edges) and best to work in the cool of the morning to eliminate fast evaporation and drying out of the glue. I have a pic of the technique below when doing the bowler wings, but I was working too fast with Mark Harvey to take pics for the main run. Here is the finished strip:

I actually used up all 20 litres of Everstick Adhesive doing the main strip, so whilst waiting to get a small 5 litre can to finish the edges down the sides (you rolled it over about 50mm - it prevents grass growing under the synthetic turf and lifting it off) I measured and marked in my creases. As every Tungsten will attest the stumps are exactly 20.12m (22 yards) apart with the popping crease 1.22m inside or in front of the stumps (4 feet in the old scale).

I started with a brush but wasn't happy with the straightness of line - the edge was a bit wobbly - plus the thickness of paint made the synthetic grass too stiff.

So I marked out the next creases with tape and spraypainted instead. This made a better line but did give off some overspray, despite having 2 pieces of timber vertically along the tape to prevent overspray.

I suspect marking out the creaselines will be a regular job but for now it's schmick :)

When I got my extra glue it was time to glue down the edges - in 2 days some spider friends had moved in under the  side flaps already :)

You can see the spread of glue with the notched trowel here, plus the gal pole I used to roll out the turf after stickdown.

I wanted to completely cover the whole pitch but I got the last roll of synthetic turf from the main supplier in the country, and it was a few metres short. I can always get some more later and finish the extreme edges and behind the batsman but it's good enough for now.

As Mark Harvey will attest the final result is beautifully flat and smooth - no air pockets or bumps anywhere. Perfect!

The next stage was to bring dirt and turf up to the level of the pitch, with a slight slope away from the pitch. This makes the runups and net area level with a slight fall to take away water from rain. The pitch itself has a slight crossfall of 15mm across 1.73m (slightly less than 1 in 100) which is not noticeable from a playing perspective but allows water to drain quickly from the pitch for fast resumption of net sessions after rain - unlike our local nets which can stay unplayable for 2 days after heavy rain as they were laid dead flat and the synthetic turf holds the water instead of allowing (through capilliary action) a wick draining  effect.

As it would cost a few thousand dollars to truck in topsoil, level it and lay turf, I worked out a cheaper method. My existing grass was a terrific native buffalo and in good condition, so I hired a turf cutter ($140 for 24 hours) and cut the grass around the pitch.

I then rolled over 250 rolls of turf and removed most of them out of the way. I had worked out a cutting method where I could cut perpindicular to the pitch and roll the turf away from the pitch a few metres, enough to allow dirt to be filled in and levelled by bobcat, then unrolled back into position. This allowed me to keep one end of turf attached and not have to lift the rolls and carry them, but the turf rolls I did that way did get large and awkward to manage. Usually turf rolls are about 0.5m by 2m long but I was doing 8m and even 10 metres in some places. All the turf rolls on the other side of the new hedge are standard rolls, able to be lifted by one person and carried around.

Once the dirt was cut and filled from the higher area behind the pitch, to the sides and bowlers runup, we were still short, so I grabbed some from my dam (unlimited supply onsite) but it was a bit clayey. The final step was to screed and rake by hand to get the level and slope perfect to the pitch.

I ordered in a few ton of topsoil to spread on the clayey ex-dam soil by bobcat, before unrolling the turf back into position.

The bobcat is finished - a solid day and a half's work - which meant the next 10 hours would be back breaking manual labour, moving and unrolling the turf.

I was stuffed at the end of these 3 days, I'd had food poisoning the a few days before which didn't help, my body doesn't recover like it used to!


<-- The next step was to insert the gal posts into the pitch. The first one dropped into place beautifully. The other 3 needed some gentle persuasion, which was a challenge, as the end to be hammered was 4.2m high. I needed a long extension ladder, a big sledgehammer, and someone brave or dumb enough to ignore the danger of holding the ladder whilst I sledge hammered away, as well as strong enough and keen enough to want to help. Chris Hogbin was the obvious choice! :)

After lunch he went home . . . so I precariously put the crossbar into place, balancing a stepladder against the post and extension ladder with one hand, whilst using the other hand to hold the crossbar balanced on the opposite pole as I climbed up and attached it. Then I repeated the process on the other pole. Dodgy as but I was keen to finish and couldn't be stuffed getting a cherry picker or erecting scaffolding for a 10 minute job. No OH & S inspectors around here! -->

All that is left to do now is run cable between the posts and hang netting from the cable. Then I'll be open for business!! The re-laid turfis recovering nicely but I might need to roll it with a heavy roller to flatten it properly so it's smooth and even underfoot.


Thanks to all this rain (stopping us playing cricket) the turf around the pitch is recovering quickly. Once it stops raining I'll roll it flat with a 1 ton petrol roller, then hang the nets :)

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 November 2009 )
Cricket Nets (Stage 2) PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Soede   
Thursday, 06 December 2007
Well I had a quick holiday (so no progress other than slab curing for a week) and since I got back it's rained. A lot. In between sometimes torrential downpours and impressive thunderstorms I have ducked out and done a couple of things - minor, but for anyone interested in doing similar, worthwhile to know and a couple of good tips (things to avoid mostly!).

The first job was cutting in an expansion joint - this is something we should have done on the day, preferably with a wet saw a few hours after finishing - "green" concrete is much easier to cut and drill than old concrete. You can place something in the slab as it's poured, but it makes it difficult to work around - and a very flat and level pitch is paramount in my humble opinion so you don't want funny bumps and lips halfway down - these days the go is to pour the slab / footpath / driveway / cricket pitch and then cut in the expansion (or controlled cracking joints). This gives a 4mm gap without a lip or dip.

In my case, as I'd left it to cure for a few days, a crack had already developed, roughly halfway. It's not a problem - with the amount of reo steel in the slab the pitch isn't going to break up for a hundred years - and you couldn't even feel it; it won't make any difference especially when under the turf. Most pitches would be crazed with cracks we just don't see them. The crack was ~11m from batsman, ~9 metres from bowlers end - an ideal place actually, close enough to the middle to prevent cracking somewhere else by allowing good expansion but well short of a "bouncer" length from a fast bowler.

I picked a straight line through the crack's meandering. In hindsight probably a bad thing - I should have put the joint in say 100mm from the crack - as parts of the crack were so close and parallel to the new joint that the concrete might flake off. But it probably won't and won't matter anyway, given where it is. (postscript - it did - see pic far right)

I lined up a sturdy piece of timber and hammered a couple of stakes into the ground to wedge and hold it, then ran my angle grinder across a few times - this made the expansion joint nice and straight. Next break in rain I'll run a bead of silicon across it - probably unnecessary but i will anyway.

I also cut in expansion joints at both stump holes - I have a fair bit of concrete past the stumps at both ends and the pitch could certainly do with a couple more controlled cracking joints. Obviously being under the crease lines at either end it won't matter either.

Next I smashed out the bricks that were used to create the stump holes at either end. A few minutes with a crowbar and elbow grease made short work of the bricks, but a small amount of damage to the corner edging of the stump holes. It doesn't matter, but for anyone else - pull the bricks out early, before the concrete sets. However, (unbeknownest to me) someone had laid a longer piece of timber under the bricks at the batsman end (to lift the bricks up higher) but it meant the timber was well and truly concreted in and couldn't be prised up and out.

So I drilled some hole and bashed and levered it with the crowbar until I had the timber out.

Then I filled the stump holes, first with larger pebbles and bits of brick (for good drainage) and then with fine pebbles and left over road base, and finally with a good clay soil packed down hard - it should bake in the sun if it ever re-appears and be a good firm base for real stumps if I want to use them.


All week I have been chasing the synthetic turf supplier, which shipped me their last roll of 28m x 1.83 (not enough to cover all the bowlers wings but I'll add some more later - minor issue) on Tuesday 27/11 and it finally arrived yesterday arvo (Friday 7/12 - 9 business days later after getting lost). I'm pretty annoyed at the courier company as they were supposed to ring ahead and despite clear instructions from supplier on the package they didn't, they dropped it off at my front door instead of at the pitch (which is why I wanted them to call so I could be here and direct them to pitch for dropoff) and to top it off drove off through newly laid and watered stabilised roadbase on my driveway despite red cones blocking that section - he even crushed 2 of the cones!

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 November 2009 )
Cricket Nets (Stage 1) PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Soede   
Monday, 12 November 2007
Some time ago I set out to build cricket nets in my backyard. I live on acreage so have the room - well, could make the room removing some old stone fruit trees (you can always buy apricots, plums, nectarines and apples can't you!) - and there were a bunch of good reasons:

    * My place is really central to our The Lakes church and cricket team (many of whom play in the Tungstens) so it would reduce drive time signficantly when we all wanted to get together and practice.
    * The nets we currently use are often booked out and the club gets preference. Plus when it rains they stay really wet for a couple of days as the idiots that laid them made them dead flat (no fall). No lights either . . .
    * My son Zac needs the practice or he could grow up to bat like me . . . although he is only 19 months it's never too early!
    * I can practice as often as I want whenever I have spare time

 Well there have been setbacks but today I really reached the point of no return, so here's the progress so far . . .

 Stage 1 - clear the canvas

Here are the old stone fruit trees and anti-bird netting

So I borrowed my neighbours excavator and knocked the nets and trees down

A quick slash with the tractor & slasher and we had a blank canvas

Stage 2 - prepare the pitch base

Rotary Hoes cut up the grass and get to compacted soil (in my case, clay)

I could just scrape the top off with a shovel if I wanted but that was too hard

My mate Richard Clark came over in his 4 ton bobcat and ripped into it and cleared a 1.8m wide strip with winged ends in no time

Rich did a sterling job but the weight of his bobcat and moisture in the soil meant he couldn't finish the gradient perfectly (100 fall in the first half, 250 in the second, I wanted 200 over the whole length) and as he was busy advised me to get an excavator in a couple of days to drag the bucket down and finish it perfectly, so no worries, my neighbour was about to build a pool, I figured a few beers could see 10 minutes of work done on my pitch, and that's when things went horribly wrong . . .

He started 200mm down at the top (creek) end and I went off to get him some beers. I came back and disaster!

He was 600mm down at the bottom end (road end) and I've never seen a pitch so far below grass level before . . .

So then I had to pay another bobcat operator (as my mate Richard Clark was too busy) to fill it back in and level it! I got a good operator who lived in the street - Richard Joplin - he had a smaller 2 ton bobcat and could do an excellent levelling job.

 He got the gradient perfect :) You can just make out my stringline which I ran for a 1-in-100 fall (I used the old water hose trick to get levels at both ends then dropped the bottom end 200mm)

This looks familiar - a strip of dirt similar to BEFORE the pool excavator got involved!

Stage 3 - Forming Up

Next step was to form up and pour road base in to provide a better base for the concrete slab. It's a bit of overkill, but the clay is a bit reactive so it will mean the slab stays in better condition over time. Still, with 82 reo and 100mm thick concrete at 20mpa I don't think it's breaking up in a hurry (this is what house slabs are made from - engineering overkill)

Tungsten Aaron Skelley is the concretor in charge and Tungsten Sir Chris Hogbin couldn't be kept away either - here he is checking his tungstens are in place :)

Looks like Chris's pull shots and mid-wicket tonks come in handy for building his roadbase levelling muscles - we put 12 ton of road base down!

I dug 300mm diameter and 700mm deep piers in the four corners to allow for a long PVC sleeve to be conreted in situ. These will be for removable net posts later on.

Next step was to compact down the roadbase after mixing in a few bags of cement and watering it in. This "stabilises" the road base (almost like laying a slab on which to lay a slab) and provides an excellent base for the steel re-inforcement (reo) to come. I did the wacka-packing (note those rippling muscles queueing up to be given a go!) whilst the rest of the boys . . .

took a break and watched :)

Then we cut up the steel sheets and lay them on chairs and tie the steel together, and it's all ready for tomorrow's pour!

Genki was so keen to bowl . . . he's getting a lot better (bear in mind it's difficult on the grid - he's working on getting 2 fingers on the seam / ball only and not falling away in delivery stride)

Stage 4 - Concrete Pour

 First we cutout some reo and placed some bricks for where the stumps will go

Then the truck arrived and the first pour of the hallowed pitch commenced:

I carefully plumbed up the PVC sleeves embedded in the concrete (where the posts will go)

A couple of boys levelled it around with shovels whilst one screed:

After screeding the concrete is floated and edged (usually floated 2, sometimes 3 times - it draws moisture to the surface, increases smoothness and kicks off the curing process more rapidly)

In our case due to the area of the pitch and the heat (curing the concrete rapidly) we used a whirlybird for the second float:

 The float was then finished by hand in full width sweeping strokes for a perfectly smooth finish:


 Which meant beer oclock!

After the boys had left I tidied up and hosed down the slab (slows the curing process for maximum strength)

Just one thing left to do . . . inscribe and  dedicate the pitch :)

Stage 5 - Strip formwork and concrete cure (2-4 weeks)

Here's the latest - formwork removed and constant watering during the really hot weather we're having at the moment to keep it cool. By cooling concrete after the initial set - using shade, water / evaporation and (best method) heshian or similar material wet down regularly - you slow down the curing or ongoing hardening process. Concrete has a crystalline structure so the slower it hardens the larger the crystals and the greater the strength (and less likelihood of cracking over time). Most of the pitch has a good 1-in-100 fall from left to right (looking at it from bowlers end, or from off to on side for RH batsman) which will dry the corridor for the typical RH bowler over to a RH bat first. Unfortunately the bowlers wings dont have the same consistency in fall - you can see the water running away from the right wing first which isn't ideal in terms of maximising pitch usability after rain. Still, it's pretty good, and LH and round-the-wicket bowlers (eg Hogbin) will benefit :)

Pitch needs a couple of weeks of curing before synthetic turf should be laid , so in the meantime I'll get  onto the actual nets.
Last Updated ( Monday, 09 November 2009 )
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Written by Web Master   
Saturday, 12 June 2004

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