Old Kings Oval in Parramatta Park, Parramatta, is one of the oldest first grade cricket facilities in Sydney. It is home to the Parramatta Cricket Club, reputed to be the oldest cricket club in NSW and second oldest in Australia. The Club boasts Richie Benaud, Doug Walters and John Benaud amongst it’s many past players.
Parramatta Park is managed by a government appointed Trust and since 2014 Urban Maintenance Systems has provided horticultural and infrastructure services under contract to the Trust for the upkeep of the Park and Old Kings Oval.
To provide an elite sports ground to the Trust and the Parramatta Cricket Club, UMS and our Head Curator, Jesse Bartlett, this year implemented a new program for renovation and maintenance of Old Kings Oval. Throughout the month of August, in less than ideal climatic conditions, UMS carried out the renovations in a short window of time, between the completion of the AFL season and the beginning of the cricket season.
Our first process was to ensure the turf had enough energy and nutrient to be able to recover from the stress of early renovations. This was done through folia fertiliser applications, applying green pigmentation’s to the leaf as well as slowly increasing soil temperatures.
Next step was for the turf to be top dressed and then verti-drained to a maximum depth of 150mm. Once complete sand was rubbed in evenly over the surface and we achieved a rapid recovery with 90% turf coverage over a 2 week period.
Following a soil test, a decision was then made to use a custom blend fertiliser across the playing surface, which was tailored to cater to the specific requirements as found in the soil test. From a maintenance point of view this minimised the time and the amount of applications required, increasing productivity and minimising the impact on the environment and user groups.
Following renovations of the outfield we quickly moved to the renovations of the wicket table including foliar applications of liquid fertiliser, surface scarifying three times in alternate directions and top dressing and leveled with wicket soil. The surface was then rolled, creating an even level surface, with good grass coverage across the whole area.
Preparation for the first cricket game of the season went well and the Trust and Club were delighted with the result and 10/10 umpires’ score for the appearance and the characteristics of the wicket. The result showed that the hard work and renovation practices that were completed early in the season had paid off!