Often it is the people behind the scenes who rarely get noticed. Whilst Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb get the plaudits for their top one day batting this year, the pitch was rarely mentioned. However, this week the ECB announced the 2009 Groundsman of the Year Award, and Hampshire’s very own Nigel Gray was commended in the one day category.
Matt Merchant from Old Trafford was the winner of the four day category and Neil Godrich from Derby received the award in the one day category, but it’s a testament to Gray’s ability to be even mentioned for the award. Gray was responsible for preparing the pitches for the amazing one day games that left the fans full of excitement and he has rightly been commended for the second year running.
Hampshire Hawks, with the aid of Gray’s brilliant skills, were able to record scores of 300 against Leicestershire, 316 against Ireland and 310 against Middlesex on their way to Friends Provident Trophy success. Creating the right environment for a score of 281 against Nottinghamshire and the excitement of a last ball win against Yorkshire in the Pro40 were down to Gray’s work as well.
Thousands of fans at The Rose Bowl saw Hampshire destroy most of their own Twenty20 records in an active summer. The 191 in the win over Surrey, a record breaking 219 against Essex, with the help of Lumb’s 124, and the 183 against Middlesex would not have been possible without Gray.
Chairman and Chief Executive Rod Bransgrove could not be more complimentary about the work Gray does: "It's tremendous recognition for Nigel Gray getting a commendation for his one day pitches. He's a brilliant groundsman who does a wonderful job for us - together with his entire team - and it's a huge achievement to be commended two year's running."
Alan Fordham, the ECB’s Head of Operations (First Class Cricket), commented: “The work of all head groundsmen is highly valued and we are delighted to make these annual awards which recognise the head groundsmen who have prepared the best pitches this season”.
Every pitch gets an assessment from each of the umpires after every match, and the winners of each category are the groundsmen whose pitches have achieved the highest average rating across the course of the season.
Written for Hampshire CCC website
5 years ago