Keane stays top of his game

Groundsman David Keane has gone back-to-back, scooping Auckland Cricket’s ‘Grounds Person of the Year’ award for the second time in as many years.

Keane works on the Shore Road and Orakei blocks with his primary role looking after Shore Road for Parnell Cricket Club.

“Considering I got the award last year, I didn’t think it would happen again so somewhat surprised but very happy! You’ve got to be happy with that,” Keane says.

Across Auckland ‘ground reports’ are completed by umpires in consultation with the captains from both sides at the completion of every fixture. This provides an overall score out of five where Keane averaged an impressive 4.63 throughout the 2017/18 season.

Parnell’s Club Manager Phil Horne says the club are lucky to have a man in charge with a long history of preparing quality pitches.

“Dave is solely responsible for this accolade. His expertise and passion has ensured that players can display their skills on a First-Class surface,” says Horne.

Preparing quality surfaces doesn’t come easy, Keane noting planning is the key.

“At the start of the season I’m always focusing on the end of March because you’ve got five months of solid cricket ahead,” he explains.

“You really need to plan your season, look at the block and ensure you’ll have a pitch of quality come the back end when the championship rounds are played.”

Part of that preparation is occurring right now with Autumn renovations in full swing.

“It’s important to do a decent renovation now to see the benefit at the back end. During the season all you can really control is the moisture content throughout the profile, the rest is down to the renovation where decompaction and seeding occurs.”

While you can control your renovation to a degree, one constant nemesis of any groundsman is the weather.

Keane described 2017/18 as the “perfect storm” of conditions which made for a unique set of challenges throughout the season.

“We had a hard summer; the temperature didn’t drop at nights and it was very humid throughout the season. Then in January/February we had huge amounts of rain which made things difficult for everyone around Auckland,” Keane says.

The high humidity combined with constant rain fall and covered pitches make for perfect conditions for algae and fungus diseases to spread.

“You’ve got to closely monitor things when the weather throws up these conditions because they can ruin a block in just a few days,” Keane says.

“Rain was a big factor this season and I think all the groundies around Auckland did a bloody good job considering the amount we had.”

But when the weather is playing ball, Keane is quick to admit his job has some pretty special moments…

“Some days when the tide is in, the outfield’s striped up and the block is looking a million bucks and people are saying ‘great pitch’, I find that very satisfying,” he says.

Who can argue with that?

Auckland Cricket would like to congratulate David Keane for winning ‘Grounds Person of the Year’ and thank all the grounds people, contractors and Council across Auckland for the hard work they put in.