Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Sunday, 16 November 2008

Keeper swaps cricket for cruise

Peter Marron, mowing the ship's lawn
Peter Marron said he thought it was a practical joke to begin with

One of Britain's leading groundsmen has swapped Manchester for Miami to oversee the world's first cruise ship lawn.

Lancashire County Cricket Club's Peter Marron, 53, is passing on his 33 years of experience to staff looking after the turf aboard the Celebrity Solstice.

The 14,000 sq ft (1,300 sq m) area is used by the 2,850 passengers to play bowls and golf on during cruises from Florida to the Caribbean.

Mr Marron, from Salford, said he first thought the offer was a prank.

But he is currently basking in the Miami sunshine while his colleagues tend to the Old Trafford ground in the Manchester November drizzle.

I really did think it was a wind-up. It's the kind of thing that Freddie Flintoff would do
Peter Marron

Mr Marron, who has been the cricket club's groundkeeper since 1975, has been employed by ship owner, Celebrity Cruises.

"I really did think it was a wind-up. It's the kind of thing that Freddie Flintoff would do," he said.

"Even when I got to the airport I thought maybe I'm going to be presented with a model ship and some turf.

"It's really been a dream job. I'm led to believe it's raining in Manchester - I'm heartbroken," he added.

Staff 'meticulous'

A lightweight clay and volcanic pumice which acts as soil for the lawn has helped keep its weight down.

"I was intrigued to see the lawn because it is something unique and it just goes to show what incredible things can be done these days," Mr Marron added.

"The staff really are meticulous in the heat and rain, they even use shears to cut the edges.

"You would never get an English groundsman to do that - they'd use a strimmer."

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