Yorkshire’s head of grounds Richard Robinson says last summer’s Ashes Test pitch played better than he imagined it would as he reflected on his first year as the county’s head of grounds.

Robinson has been in situ since last March, replacing long-standing Andy Fogarty, who remains on the staff at Headingley.

And the former Yorkshire YTS and Academy batter has loved his new role,  having come down the Otley Road following eight years in a similar role at Weetwood.

“It’s gone really well,” said Robinson, whose preparations for the new summer are in full swing and going well.

“All the pitch marks from the ECB were good, and the Test Match went really well.

“One or two of the bowlers might have thought some of the pitches were a bit flat, but that’s something we can sort out. It’s quite a similar square in make-up to the one that we had at Weetwood, so it was pretty easy to settle in.”

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com. Richard Robinson and Jasmine Nicholls.

Robinson gained high praise for the pitch he produced for July’s Ashes Test, which England won inside three days as Durham pacer Mark Wood starred. 

It was a particularly pacy pitch, with Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson revealing: “I was getting text messages from Paul Collingwood, Stuart Broad and all those guys saying, ‘What a fantastic pitch that was’. 

“People I know from Australia were also saying, ‘Wow, that’s a fantastic pitch. Do you guys play on pitches like that all year?’ I said, ‘Yes, every day’.”

And Robinson reflected: “I was very proud of what came out of that. The great thing is with a Test Match is that you get a lot of preparation time. You have 10 days to a fortnight to get things ready, so you can do it exactly how you want to.

“I knew I didn’t have another Ashes Test for eight years, so I thought, ‘I’ll go for it and try to make it pretty quick’. You get one chance to make a reputation, don’t you. 

“It was probably a better pitch than I expected it to be. The speed of it was incredible.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Mark Wood celebrates a wicket during last summer’s Headingley Test.

“Ideally, that’s how I’d want things to be for Test Matches moving forwards.”

Robinson admits the timing of County Championship matches at the beginning and end of a summer makes it tricky to replicate that sort of pitch for Yorkshire matches, though he is confident that whatever coach Gibson and his players need they will be able to oblige.

“We can leave a bit more grass on at times or take some off and leave it more dusty if they want to play two spinners,” he said. 

“Generally, though, I think we have the players to win games on any surface. 

“If we make a good wicket here, I’d back us to win because we have a good set of youngsters.”

The ECB have also given the green light for club’s to use hybrid pitches in Championship matches this season having already been in use for limited overs matches.

Picture by YCCC. Leicester-born Jasmine Nicholls is a national race walker.

The practice pitches at the side of the Headingley square are hybrids, while he is also looking into using a central hybrid for the summer’s final Division Two clash with Northamptonshire on September 26.

Robinson’s job has been made that much easier by the support he has received from his grounds team, which includes Fogarty and Jasmine Nicholls, the Great British race walker.

“Jasmine’s our media star,” joked Robinson. “She’s been fantastic, as has every member of the team. 

“We’ve gelled really well and really quickly. I can’t speak highly enough of every single one of them.”

Despite the recent wet weather, Robinson says everything is on track for the start of the summer, which kicks off a fortnight today with Yorkshire’s three-day friendly against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities.

“I haven’t thought there would be any problems at all with that game because the outfield drains so well and we’ve been covering the outfield for around five weeks now,” he added.

“It’s quite dry. If the weather’s horrendous next week, it might be different. But we’re very much on track as we stand.”

Andy Fogarty

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Andy Fogarty, on the blotter, remains on the ground staff at Headingley having stepped down as head of grounds.

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