Cricket is a cornerstone of Winchester College’s student experience, and to enhance their already exceptional standards, the school enlisted AMS Contracting to install secondary drainage on their outfield.
Head Groundsman, Kim Larcombe, oversees the 250-acre site with the help of four groundsmen and five gardeners. Sixty acres are purely dedicated to sport, with cricket having a long and distinguished history at Winchester.
The programme is devised and run by the college’s cricket professional and is supported by several highly qualified coaches. A winter programme runs from October to the start of the playing season to help players reach their full potential, and it’s when the season comes around that the surfaces are vital.
With a tight 55-day schedule planned for summer 2022, Kim must ensure that matches go ahead as scheduled, with rained off games one of the most significant risks. Having had the outfield levelled in August 2021, the experienced 39 and a half year Winchester team member wanted to enhance the drainage with AMS.
Kim explains: “We had the outfield levelled back in August/September last year, and the plan was always to have some secondary drainage put in. We didn’t want primary drainage because we’re on chalk, so the water just goes away anyway, but we wanted to help the drainage and levelling a little bit as well.
“I had a preference on what secondary drainage I wanted to use, and I talked it through with AMS, and we looked at other options, but I had my preference.
“It was good to be working with a company who wanted to put options forward and explore them, but at the same time, they weren’t pushy at all. They just presented their opinions and were happy to proceed with what we wanted and work to get the best result.
“I’m really pleased with how the project went. It all ran very smoothly, and I think that was due to the project’s planning and then the execution. It’s filling in nicely, and it was left in good condition, so we were able to play on it a week after the work was completed, and that is a testament to how well everything went.
“We’ve got about 55 days of cricket coming up on there, so it’ll be very busy. Because we have such a busy schedule, we need to play the matches when they are planned, and that’s why having good secondary drainage is so important.”
The method of drainage requested by Kim was the Blec Vibramaster at 20mm sand slits, 250mm apart and 150mm deep. This was implemented after the whole outfield had been ShockWaved and was followed with topdressing, drag matting and overseeding using a 2.5m Vredo overseeder in two directions.