Lord's head groundsman Karl McDermott 'living every cricket lover’s dream' during coronavirus lockdown

Will Macpherson
Evening Standard
PA
PA

Just like the players, Karl McDermott would now be entering the final stage of his preparations for the English cricket season.

As head groundsman at Lord's, he would have an eye on April 12, when Middlesex were due to open their campaign against Worcestershire.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

Instead, he is “living every cricket lover’s dream” — he is in the middle of a Lord’s lockdown.

But for a few security guards and construction workers rebuilding the Compton and Edrich Stands, and the couple of other on-site residents, including his five-month-old daughter, he has the run of the Home of Cricket.

Not that it makes his working life easier. Normally, he would head up a team of eight groundstaff. As they all take public transport to work, they have been told to stay away for the time being.

Between them, they would take two hours to mow the pristine outfield. On his own, it takes McDermott two days.

“It’s like the good old days of club groundsmanship, trying to survive on your own,” he said. “It’s working out what you can do.

"Generally, I get up and give the square a roll early, about 7.30am, which takes two-and-a-half hours, then I tick off the longer jobs during the day.

“In one sense it’s nice not having cricket, you don’t have to put the covers on and things like that.”

That is not the only positive, of course.

“It is quite liberating,” he said. “I’m not getting many phone calls or emails, I don’t have to go to any meetings. It’s me managing my day and watching the world go by.

"The nice weather is making my days go a lot quicker and is enjoyable. It’s not your typical wet and windy pre-season — that would be miserable on my own.

“The fact I have somewhere to walk around is great. We have just had a baby, so we don’t have to go out to take her for a little stroll, so that’s quite nice as well. It’s probably every cricket lover’s dream to be locked inside Lord’s!”

McDermott has spoken to groundsmen across the grassroots game worried about the impact the current situation will have on both their pitches and their clubs, with uncertainty over when the game will return at any level.

Professional cricket is currently not scheduled to be played until June at the earliest. McDermott is still preparing as if England’s Test match against the West Indies on June 25 will go ahead.

“It’s the same uncertainty that everyone feels right now, we are in limbo, when we can get the guys back in safely, or how much notice we will get that cricket is back.

"It’s a case of trying to stay ahead, so there’s as little catch-up as possible when we are all guns blazing. No matter when, we will be ready.”

Read more

On This Day in Sport: March 24- Australia sandpaper scandal

ECB postpone cricket season amid coronavirus pandemic

Australia star David Warner withdraws from The Hundred

What to read next