Cricketers browned off by mysterious weedkiller incident

Weedkiller-damaged wickets at Baileys Court cricket ground.

Bradley Stoke’s Council-owned cricket pitch at Baileys Court could be out of action for months following an unexplained incident in which weedkiller appears to have been applied across all ten wickets.

The damage came to light just over four weeks ago, when staff noticed the grass was starting to die off, and experts brought in by the Council have since confirmed that a “readily available” weedkiller is to blame.

Four of the damaged wickets had been freshly created for the upcoming season, with the Town Council forking out £6,000 for two of them and the cricket club paying for the other two.

Councillors at this week’s meeting of the Leisure, Youth Amenities Committee heard that there was no clear evidence to indicate whether the incident had resulted from vandalism or mismanagement by the company responsible for the ground’s maintenance.

However, the fact that the Council has since “wiped” the cricket part of its contract with the maintenance firm (Classic Landscapes) suggests that Council officers and members suspect the latter.

At Monday’s meeting, Mayor Ben Walker expressed the view that “you wouldn’t expect vandals to do it in a neat rectangle”, adding “we should be getting some recompense for the disaster they [the firm] have imposed upon us”.

Activity Centres Manager John Rendell said the Council had been looking to appoint a replacement contractor for the cricket ground but this has proven difficult because other firms are all extremely busy at this time of the year.

An interim solution has been found by asking the firm that currently looks after the Baileys Court bowling green to take on the cricket ground, although they will only be able to provide cover for two days of the week, leaving cricket club members and Council staff to “muck in” with the remaining tasks.

Attempts to get new grass seed to germinate on the damaged wickets have so far been unsuccessful. If it turns out that the weedkiller used is of a type that persists in the soil, the whole playing surface will have to be renewed, a job that would take months and cost thousands of pounds, added Mr Rendell.

John Connell, proprietor of Classic Landscapes, told The Journal he was “mystified” about how the weedkiller came to be applied to the playing surface. Although he is not personally claiming the incident was the work of vandals, he also refuses to accept any negligence on the part of his company.

The groundsman in question had “put his heart and soul” into the development of the Baileys Court cricket square over many years, said Mr Connell, adding that cross contamination between fertiliser and weed treatment could be ruled out because the firm used separate machines for each. Furthermore, the weedkiller identified by experts as the culprit was not one used by his company.

The Journal invited Bradley Stoke cricket Club to comment but they failed to get back to us by the time this article was published.

According to the club’s website, the first home league matches of the 2012 season are scheduled to be played on Saturday 5th May.

Bradley Stoke Festival Cricket Tournament

Photo: Happier times at the Baileys Court cricket ground.

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  1. The signage around the affected area needs improving, and the area needs fencing off properly. A rope around the area with some signage is not enough.

    All it needs is a child to run over it chasing a runaway ball and that child could be ill. Or even someone with a pet. I just managed to stop my little dog rushing across a corner of it the other day.

  2. K & all
    I am associated with the cricket club. Whilst it wasn’t the club who put those signs up, I do know the background to the issues at the ground and following your comments and a couple of concerned calls I’ve had this evening following the journal update, I just wanted to let you know the situation.

    I understand why the story of the cricket ground being damaged with weedkiller and now the ‘Hazardous Chemicals’ signs has combined to set alarm bells ringing and that you would think the area should be more responsibly fenced off under those circumstances.

    As far as I’m aware (and I hope its true because I’ve spent a lot of time there in the last few weeks) there is no issue with ‘hazardous chemicals’ that anyone needs to be concerned about.
    If there was, we would have all insisted on far better protection of the area and better publicity.

    Yes, something was applied to the grass that has killed it and that remains a serious problem in terms of cricket being played. But whatever it was that went on there was at least 5 weeks ago now (when it was fenced off) and I’m assured by experts that the substance only remains active for 7-10 days.
    With all the rain we’ve had in the last few weeks, whatever was on there would have washed through long before the fencing was taken down.

    The signs are there as a precaution and to encourage people to stay off the roped area as much as possible whilst its being re-seeded.
    ‘Chemicals in use’ signs have quite often been used there because certain things are used to protect against weeds, moss, pests etc.
    They are not of the type or quantity that are harmful to people or animals but you probably wouldn’t want to lay your picnic out there, hence the advice.

    After visiting any tended sports grounds you should always wash hands because it is likely to be having some chemicals applied to it for its upkeep, but the situation at Baileys Court in terms of safety to the public is no different now than at any other time, despite the combination of this news story and and the appearance of the ‘Hazardous Chemical’ signs combining to suggest different. I think it just wasn’t realised how, understandably, that combination would be interpreted.

    We appeal to people to try to keep off the roped area, including animals, as much as possible. But there are no ‘alarming’ levels of chemicals that you’d be exposed to inside that area.
    I’m sure its fairly obvious that you would want to wash your / childrens hands after a visit there and before eating, not just because there may be small quantities of chemicals in use on a maintained ground but there will also be contaminate on the grass and in the soil from animals doing their business.

    I hope that background info has helped a little with the concerns people have.

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