A Dennis cricket pitch mower is providing a flexible solution for the enthusiastic grounds team at Braunton Cricket Club in Devon.
Paul Mitcham, Chairman of Braunton Cricket Club, juggles a busy career as a driving instructor with maintaining the playing condition of the pitch. He explains: “We used professional groundstaff for about 10 years but due to financial restraints, myself and a colleague at the club, who is a policeman, decided to take over and share the responsibilities. We loved the work involved so we really didn’t mind!”
There is plenty to keep them both busy at the club which is used by four senior teams, two pub and club league sides, a social team, and under 10’s/11’s/13’s and under 15’s youth teams. They also have a former professional player at the club, Mark Lathwell (ex England International and Somerset).
The club gained an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Clubmark accreditation in 2009, acknowledging its ability to develop and nurture young talent - from six year olds to adult club level.
Paul explains: “The criteria that we had to meet included all staff being CRB checked, we had to have welfare officers in place, all coaches had to be at a certain standard and health and safety issues had to be fully addressed.
“In a way, the Clubmark accreditation is setting a benchmark standard across the country for high quality community club cricket.”
Central to the groundscare regime is a Dennis FT510, the clubs preferred choice as their wicket and square mower. Paul comments that he did not really have to shop around: “I had heard that the Dennis cricket pitch mower was the best around and we need our square to look exceptional because we are being promoted to the Devon Cricket League Premier Division this year. Braunton has a history for having top notch grounds so we need to keep that up, we think that the Dennis mower will actually raise the bar.”
However, before making a purchase, Paul did speak to a lot of other cricket groundsmen regarding their choice of wicket and square mowers, and says: “Even those who weren’t Dennis users recommended Dennis!”
The Dennis’s task is to get a perfect finish on the square, which is cut two to three times a week, ensuring a ‘safe and true’ match day playing strip. It was initially supplied with just a nine blade reel, but Paul plans to add a scarifier and a brush cassette from the choice of 11 different quick change attachments in the near future. He points out that he has already found it is very quick to remove the cassette for maintenance and cleaning.
“We have been very impressed with the quality of cut and the ease of adjustment”, comments Paul, “It is superb and I’m very pleased with how well it has performed. It is so easy to alter - with our previous machine we had to use a spanner set and it was quite time consuming to change the height of cut. You can alter the two height-of-cut click adjusters at 0.5 mm increments at a time, so it is very accurate.”
He points out that any vibration to the handlebars has been very well dampened by Dennis’s renowned engineering, ensuring operator comfort when in use. The FT510 has proved to be very robust, and Paul says that he has not experienced any downtime. “The mower is built to last, it is a long term investment.”
He adds that after sales service has also been excellent: “Devon Garden Machinery are always at the end of the phone, as is Robert Jack at Dennis who is very helpful.”
Another plus point is the long British heritage of Dennis machines, as Paul explains: “We are very patriotic at Braunton Cricket Club! The FT510 is British engineering at its finest; I would have no hesitation in recommending it to someone else!!!”