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Head groundsman Gary Barwell is gearing up for his busiest year yet as Edgbaston prepares to take its place at the centre of world cricket

Warwickshire head groundsman Gary Barwell is gearing up for his busiest year yet as Edgbaston prepares to take its place at the centre of world cricket in 2019.

The work of Barwell and his seven-strong team will be under the closest scrutiny next year when Edgbaston Stadium hosts five ICC Cricket World Cup matches, including a semi-final, and the opening Specsavers Ashes Test match between England and Australia.

We just want every spectator who comes to Edgbaston to go away having enjoyed the day and seen some great cricket.

Gary Barwell

The ground will also host Vitality Blast Finals Day as well as seven Specsavers County Championship matches and at least seven Vitality Blast group matches and four Royal London One-Day Cup games.

The Edgbaston square, with its 24 pitches (17 first-class), will provide the stage for much high-quality cricket from many of the world’s best players. And Warwickshire can be confident that their groundstaff team is up to the challenge after Barwell was last week named Groundsman of the Year at the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Awards – the most important accolade the industry can bestow. His team also collected the Professional Cricket Grounds Team of the Year.

“It was fantastic to receive the awards on behalf of the team,” said Barwell. “It is great recognition of their skill and hard work over very long hours and, if it was pleasing to receive the award, the reaction from people since has been overwhelming.

“Perhaps it was summed up when Keith Cook said to me: ‘You’re a true Bear now mate.’ Coming from a legend like him, that meant a lot!

“I am lucky enough to work at a club that backs me and to have a really good team to work with. We take a pride in every pitch we prepare – the same standards apply whether it’s for a practice pitch or a Test match and the feedback we get is that a lot of people are happy with our work.

“Next year will be very busy and challenging but also really exciting and we are all looking forward to it. We just want every spectator who comes to Edgbaston to go away having enjoyed the day and seen some great cricket.”

The customary winter reseeding of the square has taken place before the field takes a much-needed winter rest.

“The season finished very late, our last game was October 5, which wasn’t ideal, but we are now where we need to be,” said Barwell. “We have reseeded and given the square a very hard scarification.

“We have also put in two more grass nets on the Colts Ground so there will be an additional four practice pitches available to international and domestic cricketers from next year.”