New head groundsman looking forward to challenge

University of Otago Oval turf manager Jayden Tohill does some top dressing at the venue yesterday...
University of Otago Oval turf manager Jayden Tohill does some top dressing at the venue yesterday. PHOTO GERARD O'BRIEN
The Sandman puts people to sleep then brings them good dreams by sprinkling magical sand around.

Otago will be hoping new groundsman Jayden Tohill has a similar effect at the University of Otago.

The 25-year-old was overseeing some topdressing at the venue when the Otago Daily Times arrived for an interview yesterday.

Basically, it involved spreading some sand and grass seed about.

Sadly, the sand's magical qualities are unknown. But with or without supernatural help, the Volts, who struggled last season, will be able to rely on some good playing surfaces.

Tohill took over the role of lead groundsman from Mike Davies earlier this month but has been at the venue for a year.

Judging by some of the surfaces he has helped prepare, the pitch should be in fabulous condition for the summer.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge," he said.

"It will be a good learning experience and you have to test yourself at some stage. You think you've got the skills so you back yourself."

Tohill said he had flourished under the leadership of Davies, who was always so positive.

"He backed me to do well and it is helpful when you have someone like that to teach you."

Tohill, who hails from Southland, grew up playing cricket but described himself as a "run-of-the-mill battler".

"But towards the end of high school I wanted to stay involved in sport and there was an article in the paper about another bloke from Southland who was doing good things in greenkeeping."

That inspired Tohill to enrol in a sports turf management course at Otago Polytechnic.

Through the programme he was lucky enough to secure an internship with New Zealand Cricket at Lincoln.

From that initial foothold, Tohill was able to secure a fulltime job when a position became available in 2012.

When the travel bug called, Tohill ended up having a stint at The Oval in London.

It was a seasonal role and he had planned to do some more travelling after that but an assistant turf management job came up in Lincoln and Tohill was drawn back to the country.

He moved to Dunedin last year to assist Davies and now finds himself leading the team.

Tohill is responsible for preparing the No4 and No5 grounds at Logan Park as well. But the main priority is the wicket block out in the middle of the University of Otago Oval.

The Black Caps will play Bangladesh in a one-dayer at the venue on February 20. That will be a big occasion for the young man.

But his first assignment is to get the ground ready for Otago's opening home game this season - a one-dayer against Central Districts on November 4.

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