Sunday, July 08, 2018

It is a tribute to the craftsmanship of the original Autoroller engineers that, over half a century on, rollers from that era are widely considered to be superior to those manufactured today.

The Lymington Sports Ground’s motor roller was recently refurbished by Wiltshire company Autoglide. The major overhaul included the welcome addition of power steering and the introduction of a key start to replace the old starting handle.

The metalwork has also been repainted in traditional British rolling green. The total bill of the refurb was approx £8,000

The roller is believed to be 56 years old and previously saw service at Hampshire’s old County Ground at Northlands Road before being acquired by the club in the late 1990s.

The Roller...  the one true hero responsible for bringing a match alive by prepping the turf that makes or breaks. The genesis lies in the pitch.

Now, apart from the factors of grass cover and soil composition, what makes a pitch playable (or unplayable, for that matter) depends primarily on the kind of roller that’s used on it.

Notably, it was in August 1938 when England thrashed Australia by 579 runs after having put up a humongous total of 903/7.

An iconic picture of the Test match shows Bosser Martin, who was the groundsman at The Oval with his heavy roller which, according to an article in The Guardian by eminent Cricket commentator and writer, Mike Selvey, had worked on the pitch “till the surface resembled concrete”.

Who gets the say in when and which type of roller is to be employed upon the pitch? Barring the first day of any Test match, it is the batting team captain who dictates the rolling conditions. According to the Law 10. (a) of the ICC Rules of Cricket written and interpreted by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which entails “Preparation and Maintenance of the Playing Area”: “During the match the pitch may be rolled at the request of the captain of the batting side, for a period of not more than 7 minutes, before the start of each innings, other than the first innings of the match, and before the start of each subsequent day’s play.” Further, Law 10. (c) elucidates on the ‘Choice of rollers’ as: “If there is more than one roller available the captain of the batting side shall choose which one is to be used.”

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