THERE seems little chance of Lancashire of emulating the MCC at Lord’s by re-laying their Old Trafford field to ensure better drainage, even though it is regarded as a “priority”, judging from responses at the members’ meeting at the Tyldesley Suite in the pavilion on Wednesday.
According to the report in the county’s website, the three main points raised concerned: 1) The wet summer and can Old Trafford’s current drainage system be improved to cope 2) This summer’s pop concerts and the effects these had on the Old Trafford outfield 3) Why the current County Championship fixture against Hampshire wasn’t moved to Liverpool following concerns over the outfield.
On addressing the first point, Lancashire’s head groundsman Pete Marron explained that in his 30 years at the Club he has never experienced a summer like it. “Manchester and the rest of the Country have experienced the wettest summer since records started, and unfortunately this has led to matches all over the country to be abandoned,” he said.
“We’ve identified that the Old Trafford drainage system, which was laid five years ago and has worked successfully up until this season, has not coped with the volume of rain this season and as such isn’t working as efficiently as we all would like.
“As part of the redevelopment, the club has started to look into a new drainage system which could cost £1 million. But unlike the new Lord’s system, Lancashire needs to find the technology which will suit the specific needs of the Old Trafford outfield.”
Lancashire’s chairman Jack Simmons added: “It’s a huge investment, but one the committee sees as a priority as we redevelop Old Trafford.”
Most of the meeting was taken up with discussion surrounding the pop concerts held in July and what effect these have had on the Old Trafford outfield. In response to these questions, the following comments were made by members of the committee and the Lancashire executive.
Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes, on the concerts and the turf damage: “Lancashire has successfully hosted such events since 1992 and this is the first year that there have been any threat to subsequent cricket matches, despite rain falling during some of those concerts. Pop concerts bring extra revenue into the club and all the money the club raises through these ventures go straight back into the Club.
“They are a very valuable source of revenue and when you think up to 10 other clubs in the last three years have asked Lancashire for advice about staging concerts, it’s clear that the strategy itself is a prudent one. The pop concerts aren’t the only reason why the outfield is damaged, but it certainly hasn’t helped. For example if it hadn’t rained at Old Trafford over the weekend, we would have started this Hampshire fixture as scheduled on the Tuesday.”