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5 Minutes With... Toby Lumsden

Wednesday 07, Oct 2020

The Australian Sports Turf Managers Association has created a segment to help the turf industry stay connected.  With many events postponed due to current challenges, the opportunity to meet new and catch up with familiar friends and peers across the turf industry is limited, so we’re keeping connected and to ensure that turf managers can get to know members from other areas of the industry, other States and other countries, to help promote the professionals and the hard work put into the industry.

Today we spend 5 minutes with... Toby Lumsden (CSTM), Head Curator, International Cricket Council Academy, Dubai. 


Provide a quick overview of your facility (staff, turf varieties managed, current role and length of time at your club/facility.)

Head Curator. International Cricket Council Academy, Dubai International Cricket Stadium, La Liga Football Academy & Dubai Rugby Park.

All these Businesses and under the umbrella of Dubai Sports City.  This is my second time at DSC for a total of 7 years.

I have a team of 22 staff to manage covering 7 days a week from 5am till midnight.  Cricket season is 10 months of the year, closed during summer (June-July).  Turf varieties are Tifway 419 and Princes 77 Bermuda grass.  Cricket stadium along with the football and rugby pitches are oversown with rye during winter (November- March).  We have 4 different clay types we use in the ICCA, WACA, GABBA, Surrey Loam (UK) and Pakistan clay.


2020 has been one out of the box especially in light of the global pandemic – how have your operations had to change and adapt from past years and what has been the most challenging aspect for your as a superintendent/sports turf manager?

Since arriving back in Dubai in March from Pakistan where is was consulting for the Pakistan Super League, COVID has thrown a few curve balls our way.  Staff numbers were reduced to 30%, and the uncertainty of the pandemic made it challenging to pinpoint an exact time for end of season renovations.  Not knowing if sport was going to be played sooner or later, we decided to close the sports grounds and do early renovations on all turf.  Soon after completing renovations, sport was allowed to begin again, giving the turf not long to recover and playing sport in 40 degrees is tuff.

The COVID rest certainly did help the cricket stadium, and give us time for the IPL which is currently being played.


Best piece of advice you have received about the turf management profession and who gave it to you?

Learn by your mistakes, especially when it comes to preparing cricket pitches.  Each new pitch throws different obstacles your way which through experience (and a few mistakes) you learn from.  Words of advice from Tony Ware.


Talk about a recent or current project you have undertaken at your facility and what it means for the club.

I have been doing some trails and experiments with hybrid turf cricket pitches, to see recovery rates, establishment and the hardness. At the end of this cricket season I am laying a full hybrid cricket pitch in the oval to be used for games.  Excited to see how it goes


Tell us one thing about yourself that your fellow turf practitioners might now know about you (eg: hobbies/achievements in sport etc).

Although Head Curator and love cricket, I didn’t play cricket growing up, as I was no good at it.


What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Have a passion for what you do and work hard, push yourself to be better than just average, and success will come.


What do you like doing in your spare time?

Spending time with the family travelling and watching the Hawks (AFL).


Thanks for taking 5 minutes with us Toby!