Groundsman’s pitches hailed as second best in country

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A GROUNDSMAN who worked his way from the grassroots level up to international cricket matches has had his pitch hailed as the second best in the country.

Green-fingered David Measor began tending wickets as a teenager after finishing at Dyke House School, in Hartlepool.

He is now head groundsman at Emirates Durham International Cricket Ground, in Chester-le-Street, where his field has hosted world-class sportsmen and is set to welcome an Ashes test next year.

The 51-year-old recently came runner-up in the four-day test category of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) 2011 Groundsman of the Year Awards.

His pitch was rated at the end of each Durham County Cricket Club game last season by umpires, with the ratings then used to rate the grounds across the country.

David said: “It’s a very pleasant job but there is a lot of pressure. I’m lucky though to work in a lovely setting, with Lumley Castle in the background and surrounded by trees.

“To come runner-up means a lot because a lot goes into a good pitch. Unlike many sports, the ground influences the game.

“The ball needs to run so batsmen can get runs and there has to be something there for the bowlers to get wickets with a bit of spin on the pitch.

“It’s all about getting the balance and with international players coming here, it’s very important to get it right.”

David went straight into tending pitches after leaving school when he joined Seaton Carew Cricket Club on a six-month youth training scheme (YTS) in 1978.

Seaton’s head groundsman stood down a year later and David stepped up and spent the next 14 years there before moving on to Hartlepool Cricket Club.

During his time in Park Drive, David hosted first class cricket for the first time with county teams coming to play Durham.

David said: “I remember having around 5,000 fans there in Park Drive for Essex v Durham. It was crazy.”

He then moved to Chester-le-Street in 1995 to work under head groundsman Tom Flintoff.

Tom retired in 1999 and David has been responsible for the ground ever since.

In that time, David has seen the stadium, formerly known as the County Ground at the Riverside, become one of the key cricket sites in the country.

It became one of the newest additions to the English test match circuit, hosting its first match – England v Zimbabwe - in 2003, and has also become a regular fixture for England one day games.

He has also seen Durham win the County Championship in 2008 for the first time, and retain the trophy in the 2009 season.

Now he is looking forward to his biggest challenge yet, when Australia visit Chester-le-Street next year for the ground’s first Ashes test.

David said: “You can’t get any bigger than that. The Ashes is the pinnacle because you know everyone will be watching.

“It’s an exciting time and everyone here is looking forward to it.”

David lives on the grounds of the cricket club with his wife, Angela, 50, a nursery nurse from Hartlepool.

They have two children, Darren Gibson, 26, who is part of the groundstaff at Durham, and Zoe Gibson, 28, and two grandchildren.