Hybrid pitches facilitate growth of cricket

To accommodate the growing number of members, Dutch cricket club Voorburg has opted to have five natural grass pitches to be converted to hybrid pitches.

The turf square of the Westvliet cricket facility is one of five which have been granted ODI status in the Netherlands.

Speaking to Emerging Cricket, Voorburg’s head coach Tom de Grooth, said that with seven pitches in its square, the club had found it impossible to achieve its goal of allowing all teams to gain the experience of playing regularly on grass.

“We have even had to turn down some requests from the Royal Dutch Cricket Association (KNCB) to host youth matches because of the level of demand on the square and the long preparation and recovery times,” he said.

The decision to have five of the seven strips converted to hybrid, was a conscious decision.

“The strips wear more slowly and can therefore be used for more matches and it reduces preparation times for each pitch and cuts the renovation time from six or seven weeks to four or five, meaning that you can rotate the strips quicker and thus get more games.

“You still have to prepare pitches as usual, but they last longer and recover quicker.”

The conversion in Voorburg was done by SIS Pitches, a Dutch company that has already improved the cricket surface of several clubs in England. This includes the ECB’s National Performance Centre in Loughborough, Nottinghamshire’s Trent Bridge, and practice pitches at Lord’s, the Oval and other Test venues.

The SIS Pitches concept of reinforcing natural grass pitches is by stitching polyethylene yarn onto the natural grass, thereby producing pitches which comprise 95% natural grass and 5% artificial.

“The only big difference from natural grass is that the hybrid pitches dry out quicker and therefore need more water,” De Grooth added. “Otherwise there’s no difference in the preparation, except that you only need eight days.

“We will take the grass down to five mm. at the start of the season, which is about the same as we would normally do.”

 

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