Shropshire Star

Ollie Westbury: Storms gather, but heroic groundsmen keep rolling across the region

The cricket season is now well under way – both on the professional and amateur stage.

Edgbaston head groundsman Gary Barwell, speaking with Joe Root during an England training session

It has been a mild, yet horrifically wet, winter. Across the country, ground staff have been pushing themselves to get pitches ready for cricket.

In the amateur game, some competitions across Shropshire and Staffordshire, including the Birmingham League, have used common sense and delayed the start of the season – yet others have not had that luxury.

In the professional game, Warwickshire took on Worcestershire in a local derby as early as April 5.

It is no exaggeration to say it has felt like it has not stopped raining since the start of 2024, aside from the last week, and the head groundsman at Edgbaston, Gary Barwell, has spoken about some of the challenges he and his 10-strong team have faced since the turn of the year.

He said: “In 2022 there was 715mm of rain in Birmingham. From October 1, 2023 to March 16, 2024, we had 770mm.

“So, in six months, we had a year’s worth of rain. Now that sort of tells you all you need to know in one respect.

“But what it does not show is that our only growing time is the winter. We get all our renovations done and spend a lot of money and that is when your growing season starts.