After 10 years of requests, Cricket Club's grass cut shorter
Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
The Ohio State Cricket Club has been requesting shorter grass for 10 years. Finally, Karen Crabbe of Facilities Operations and Development is helping the team trim its troubles away.
Crabbe has instructed the Facilities Operations and Development groundskeepers to cut the grass half an inch shorter by the Jesse Owens West Tennis Center, where the cricket pitch is located, said Romel Somavat, the club president.
The 3-inch grass will now be cut to 2-and-a-half inches using a Toro Zero Turn mower.
In the past, when the club played on the pitch, even the All-American club president, Somavat, hit fly balls because the grass was too long to hit grounders, he said.
"It was the only way we had a chance of scoring any runs," Somavat said.
By keeping the ball on the ground, a batsman limits the chances of an outfielder to make the play, Somavat said.
However, the men of the OSU team had to adjust their technique to an all fly-ball game.
"When guys played on our team for a couple of years, they were actually getting worse," he said.
The shaggy carpet of grass prohibited the team from executing simple shots, but hope has been renewed.
Members of the club complained about the grass height to the Department of Recreational Sports, but the team never saw improvements, Somavat said.
Through e-mail, different directors in Rec Sports told Somavat, who has been president for two years, that Facilities Operations and Development was unable to make any changes to the grass length. However, no one ever put the team in direct contact with Facilities Operations and Development, Somavat said.
After years of frustration within the club, Somavat took action.
"I walked up to the man who was cutting the grass and asked if he could cut it any shorter," he said.
And it was that man, Bob Mellman of Facilities Operations and Development, who finally got the ball rolling by giving Crabbe's contact information to Somavat.
"We took it down half an inch, but if we try to cut it any shorter, it'll burn out the grass," Crabbe said.
Jimmy Francis, director of Satellite and Outdoor Facilities, said via e-mail that the team's requests were repeatedly relayed to Facilities Operations and Development. But Crabbe does not recall hearing about the club's concerns before she was contacted by Somavat in late April, she said.
The new length is still too long for an ideal pitch. However, the half-inch decrease is a minor victory for the team after requests went unanswered from multiple university departments for so long, Somavat said.
Somavat, a graduate student in food engineering, knelt down to grab a blade as he explained the obstacles of lengthy grass and its dangers.
In one instance, before the grass was cut, the ball rolled on the overgrowth, bounced and hit players. Although this can happen on any pitch, the high grass has added to the risk, said team member Viral Patel in an e-mail to Recreational Sports.
"We are actually fortunate that in this instance, the player got away with just severe bruising on the cheekbone and a small laceration," Patel said.
Gregg Pearce of Rec Sports told the club that Facilities Operations and Development was unable to cut the grass shorter, and did not act further on the club's complaints.
Pearce was unavailable to comment on the situation.
Somavat's frustration grew stronger with each day the pitch went uncut.
He said he believes that because cricket is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in his homeland of India, the club is treated differently than the other sports clubs on campus.
Even the club field hockey team, another sport that requires a specific grass length, uses a turf field, he said with a sigh.
But Francis welcomes the diversity the cricket club brings to campus.
"The cricket club, like many of the other sport clubs on campus, is passionate about their sport, and we will continue to be supportive of their recreational pursuits," he said.
Somavat said he could not understand the barriers he faced while trying to get the grass cut shorter. Until he finally reached out to Crabbe, he had gotten only as far as the ball in 3-inch grass.
Crabbe is happy to reduce the length as much as she can, but cutting the grass shorter than 2 inches would be expensive because of the type of grass planted on the pitch, Crabbe said.
However, Somavat said he and the rest of the team will continue to work with Crabbe to reach their ultimate goal.