A HOST of former international cricket stars are set to strut their stuff around the grounds of Stamford School later this month and it’s not just local players who are preparing for one of the biggest matches of their life.
The pitch is so often the most important element to a cricket match and groundsman Bob Carder is relishing the chance to put together a wicket that is fit for the likes of Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, David Lloyd aka Bumble, Herschelle Gibbs, and co.
Those 22 yards can determine the outcome of a match, and whether the game is a run fest and full of fours and sixes, or a bowling minefield with wickets galore.
Bob, who lives in Woolsthorpe, Colsterworth, was appointed head groundsman at Stamford School seven years ago, and says when he took over the role he could not have dreamt of having a game of this magnitude played on the pitch.
“It’s a testament to how far we’ve come over the seven years,” said Bob, 48.
“The square and outfield was in a terrible state when I took over and it was really unplayable.
“But we had it relayed we’ve stuck to our seven year plan and put together something that we can all be proud of.
“The proof will be when the first ball is bowled. The crowd have come to see sixes so we’re hoping for a hard, even surface so the last thing we’ll want to see is Devon Malcolm steaming in and the ball shoots along the floor.
“I’ve never had to prepare a pitch where there are so many former internationals playing so I am really looking forward to it.”
Before Bob took the role, the school did not have a proper full-time groundsman. His appointment brought 23 years worth of experience and knowledge to the school, and with financial support from bursar Allan McLoughlin, and an extra pair of hands from his deputy Jason Grosse and assistant Colin Atter, the quality of the square and outfield has been transformed.
It’s no secret that the cricket season has been a bit of a washout this year. Nearly half of all club matches have been called off due to the weather, leaving groundsmen just as frustrated as the players.
Despite all the rain this season, Bob claims the wicket has played true and results suggest it has.
Scores have been high and recently the school posted more than 300 runs in just 39 overs.
Bob said: “Apart from a wet season in 1991, I’ve never known a year like it. We had the hosepipe ban earlier in the year and then the rain came.
“It’s been frustrating because we’ve had the covers on, covers off. You can cover it as much as you want but you really need the sun on it to dry it out.
“But so far the wicket has played well considering the weather and we’ve had some big scores.
“We’ll all have our fingers crossed that the rain stays away on the day.”
Bob added: “I’m really looking forward to seeing Bumble and to think Freddie Flintoff will be bowling on a pitch you’ve prepared is great.
“It will be nice to see someone really bend their back to see the pace and carry they get off the pitch.
“This is the biggest game ever for the school so I’m hoping we’ve done everything right so we can sit back and enjoy the play.
“And I’ll probably try and get some autographs too.”