Fellow groundsmen hope the season is going well and the weather hasn’t been to unkind to you ,certainly was a challenging early May.
This Month we are going to be looking at hybrid /stitched wickets and whether these are just for counties or for recreational cricket.
We will be getting the thoughts of Chris Geere at Blackstone Academy Ground who has recently had a hybrid surface stitched into one of his wickets and we shall also be hearing from the supplier directly, after l put to them your questions.
What are hybrid wickets ?
SISGrass pitches are made up of 95 per cent natural grass and 5 per cent two-tone polyethylene yarn. In football, that has led to considerable improvements in surface performance. SISGrass system has been used at 6 out of 12 World Football Cup stadiums in Russia.
SISGrass use green or straw-coloured yarn, to make natural turf cricket wicket look as authentic as possible. And from a spectating distance, they are almost impossible to differentiate visually from a fully grass surface. The fibres are inserted at 2cm x2cm at 9m below the surface level, and up to 1 cm above the surface. The potential advantages this could bring to cricket matches are incredible, increasing the durability of the pitches to extend match play and practice sessions.
Above curtesy of SIS/pitches .
Some common questions ,directly answered from the supplier,SIS/pitches and there representative Tom Alcock .
Expected life span within a cricket wicket ?
Very difficult to say at this stage. Full depth stitching (180mm) in football is expected to last 8 years and can last 10+. Being half-depth (90mm) will reduce this but we do get excellent anchorage from cricket loam. A lot will depend on maintenance, amount of use, renovations etc.
Could this technology be used ,just for the ends and if so ,will we still get footholes ?
It can just be used for footholes, but financially it would have to be a significant area to make this work. You will still get some wear in footholes once stitched. A comparison was carried out between a hybrid, and non-hybrid pitch on the same ground. Footholes on the non-hybrid were twice the depth with half the amount of overs on the track.
Average cost and what’s are the benefits to a small club with limited funds ?
Benefits are reduced wear with increased performance. It’s difficult to give an average cost, contact me onThomas.A@sispitches.com for more info on this.
What happens the material at the end of its life span and can it be re stitched and or removed?
The yarn can be separated and removed. Re-stitching would depend on how much yarn Is already in the surface.
Will Koring effect it and if so at what depth of koring will be detrimental to the stitch. ?
You can Koro in a normal way using the ‘Universal’ attachment. It may mean taking less out per pass but you can reach the depth you would normally look to achieve.
Will the hybrid surface significantly improve a poor pitch-root break and or poor soil strength?
It can do yes. The action of the machine with 6mm tines going down 90mm on 2cm spacings is an amazing aeration tool in itself. It can help to break through layerings and the aeration encourages root growth at depth.
What percentage of the area is actually stitched – <5%
Renovations, would a scarifier remove much stitching ?
You may remove a very small amount, but this would be tiny percentage of the amount of stitching.
What is your market County ,or do you expect to be working within club cricket ?
It has initially been County cricket, but we expect this to filter down into club and school cricket.
Is there a minimum area that can be stitched, to make viable to you?
One pitch is the minimum,financially though it makes much more sense to get more than 1 installed because our travel and set-up costs make the installation of just one pitch expensive in comparison.
What are the benefits of having a hybrid surface ?
Improved surface durability / profile stability
Helps create and maintain a consistent playing surface.
Reduced wear, helps maintain a greater grass coverage
Reduced bowler foot holes and crease damage
Reduced repair works after play
Extended hours of play
Faster grass recovery time
Shorter wicket turnaround time
The surface remains a 95%
natural turf surface!
Installation into existing or new pitch constructions
For more information please see the below link.
Chris Geere ,feedback on his experience of having a hybrid surface inserted.
What are your expectations in regards to hybrid pitches and what is the plan for the future of the hybrid surface at Blackstone ?
The expectations are that we will be able to get much more use out of the pitch, its difficult to know quite how much extra use but possibly upto double. The plan for this season is to use for 2 T20s by Sussex 2s and 8 Sussex age group games.
We have to wait for two months after installations to allow the stitch holes to close up and then we plan to use the newly stitched wicket then .
How do you feel installation went ?
My experience of the installation was extremely positive. The guys doing it were knowledgeable and competent it took a whole day to do the 1 pitch which is a bit longer than normal, this was because there wasnt quite enough moisture in the pitch. Apart from the time doing it there was no disruption to the square we had a game on the square 2 days later and everything was fine. There is no special aftercare to undertake they just told us to treat it like a normal part of the square .
What was your reason for having a hybrid pitch installed?
The reason for having it done on our main square was mainly because the powers that be at Sussex wanted to know more about them before they committed to doing match pitches at hove.
Personally I want them in my grass net area and that will help me a great deal, as at the moment I’m only getting 2 or 3 weeks out of a pitch this could increase to 6 or 7 weeks or even longer.
Practical video on how the machine works,curtesy of Chris Woods of the ECB –
Many thanks for reading this Months blog and those who assisted with it ,if more questions than answers leave a comment in the box below and l will endeavour to find an answer .