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Report on a visit of inspection to the new cricket ground at Évrange

Monday, 16 April 2007

Present: B. Rouse, B. Lougheed, D. Crowther

First impressions:
BR, BL (who'd seen the ground the previous year): still rough, but much improved.
DC (first visit): charming, but disappointingly rough.

None of the inspectors had any problem with the ground location, or with its dimensions or topography. The setting is charmingly rural; the ground slopes; and the boundaries are fairly short. All of this can, of course, be said of any number of attractive village grounds in England. BR and BL confirm that far worse grounds, offering little or no prospect of improvement, have been used for European-level tournaments.
We have no idea how the pitch will behave, but it doesn't look as though it will be dangerously erratic.
Our doubts have to do exclusively with the quality of the infield and outfield. On the day of inspection, after many days of baking sun, much of the field, especially on the stream side of the strip, was still quite soggy. This will probably never be an evenly or quick drying ground.
The field is still bumpy (although BR and BL noted a great improvement over the previous year). This is probably never going to be a ground for cultured ground-stroke play or for swooping fielding exploits!
We feel that, though the bumps may eventually be ironed out, the biggest handicap in the field will always be the quality of the grass. The grass in Évrange is typical of old hay/silage meadows: tussocky, with patches of bare soil between the tussocks. The tussocks are likely to make the ball jump more than the lumpiness of the earth. Ideally, the ground should be cleared, rolled and re-seeded with a dense sports-grass mixture, but we acknowledge that this is out of the question, especially if the ground continues to be used for agricultural purposes.

Subject to further inspection after the next cut(s), prior to the scheduled use of the ground, our provisional conclusion is that this is likely to be a serviceable ground which will improve with time, but will probably always be rough and "sporting". Provided this is acknowledged and accepted as being equally fair/unfair on both sides, there is no reason why Évrange should not provide a decent setting for a decent game of cricket.

The ground at Évrange. (Click to enlarge) Schuman Oval, Évrange. (click to enlarge)