Higher quality cricket pitches could result from pioneering soil science research under way in Yorkshire and Wales.
The Sports Turf Research Institute at Bingley and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, have joined forces to monitor all the pitches used during Test matches and county championships.
Four small samples of grass and soil from each pitch have been obtained using a small coring device developed by Aberystwyth's Bill Adams.
The plugs are then investigated in the laboratory to determine the soil properties that affect each pitch's behaviour.
Eventually, the information will be fed into a database so that pitch characteristics can be related to umpire's reports and player's performance.
In parallel, scientists at Bingley are comparing various types of grass seeds and soil mixes to ascertain how they respond when cricket balls are bounced and bowled on them.
The hope is that it will help groundsmen identify the best soils and construction methods for cricket pitches.
It removes four-inch-deep plugs of grass and earth, half an inch in diameter.