Matt Merchant wins top ground manager award for third time
Lancashire Cricket Head Groundsman Matt Merchant has won the ECB Grounds Manager of the Year Award for the third time following an awards ceremony at the Uptonsteel County Ground in Leicester.
Long-serving Merchant, who first joined the ground staff at Emirates Old Trafford as a 16-year-old in 1990, was recognised for his outstanding pitches in four-day cricket.
Merchant first won the Bernard Flack Memorial trophy in 2009, a year before the Emirates Old Trafford pitch was turned around, before claiming the honour again in 2013.
Matt Merchant said: “I have seen a lot of changes to Emirates Old Trafford over my time and a lot of hard work and time has gone into the preparation of those pitches over the years.
“It’s nice to win the award again although you have no chance of getting an honour like this unless you have a quality team around you and we certainly have that. It has been a busy year, we even prepared a Test pitch that didn’t get a ball bowled on, but it’s always rewarding.
“We have a great relationship with (Lancashire Head Coach) Glen Chapple and the team. He always wants us to produce the best pitch that we can in all formats and then he says they’ll try and do the rest.”
Mark Chilton, Director of Cricket Performance, said: “The work of Matt, and his team of dedicated, hard-working ground staff deserve huge praise, and we are delighted that he has won the ECB Grounds Manager of the Year Award for the third time.
“Here at Lancashire Cricket, we pride ourselves on playing good quality cricket on the best pitches possible and Matt and his team play a crucial role in that. The whole grounds staff work selflessly to help the cricket department with the preparation of pitches, both on practice and match days, and the long days are greatly appreciated by the whole squad and management team.
“The pitches for International Cricket at Emirates Old Trafford are renowned for being some of the best in the world, with good carry and bounce, and have scored consistently highly by the ECB and ICC over the last decade.
“I would also like to mention Alex Kegg at Chester Boughton Hall, who has been commended by the ECB for outground cricket. Over the past 18 months, Lancashire’s men’s and women’s teams have trained in Chester and they have provided us with some great pitches there. We thank him for all his hard work and efforts.”
Headquarters Grounds, Four-Day: Matt Merchant (Emirates Old Trafford).
Joint Runners-up: Scott Hawkins (Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton), Neil Godrich (Incora County Ground, Derby). Commendations: Gary Barwell (Edgbaston), Ben Gibson (The 1st Central County Ground, Hove), Lee Fortis (Kia Oval).
Headquarters Grounds, One-Day: Adrian Llong (Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence).
Runner-up: Scott Hawkins (Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton). Commendations: Gary Barwell (Edgbaston), Vic Demain (Emirates Riverside), Andy Ward (Uptonsteel County Ground, Grace Road), Karl McDermott (Lord’s).
Test Match Recognition Award: Simon Lee, The Ageas Bowl, England Men v West Indies, 2020.
Outgrounds: Christian Brain (Cheltenham College)
Commendation: Alex Kegg (Chester Boughton Hall), Jonathan Corcoran (York).