Hybrid Cricket Pitches- Going Dutch is a Q+A blog we done with a club in the Netherlands, who have recently had hybrid cricket pitches stitched into the current cricket square.
Who are you, where are you based and what’s your experience of hybrid stitched cricket pitches?
I’m Tom de Grooth based at Voorburg Cricket Club in the Netherlands. I have taken over the care of our facilities two seasons ago, first came across the concept of hybrid cricket pitches around that time. The club was looking to update the square as the demands where growing. We wanted to give more members a chance to play on turf wickets but also the international calendar was ever expanding. This seemed an easy way to get more use while maintaining quality without having to expend the existing square.
We only have seven strips at the moment with close to 60 days of cricket, plus trying to get the first team to practice in the middle, it got pretty warn at the end of the season. I had some chats with SISgrass at the time and was very excited about the product. After following the progress at county level, chatting with a couple of the guys in charge at county grounds, we started making a plan.
We were lucky to secure a council grant and after approval of the board and members we moved forward. The work was done at the beginning of November. We converted five strips to hybrid, leaving us with two full natural grass strips for international games. At the moment hybrids cannot be used for men’s ODI games. I cannot wait to see what it will do for the club next summer.
How many clubs are there in the Netherlands and do you think others may follow your lead?
There are around fifty clubs in the Netherlands, but only seven have a turf square, there has been lots of interest from the other clubs. I think it’s a great chance for a couple of the other clubs to be able to the same. With quicker recovery time it would help getting more games played, making sure juniors and seniors will get a chance to use the turf pitches and not just the first team players.
How did you sell this idea to the club, that installing hybrids would be beneficial?
Once we agreed we need to be able to get more games on the field, we had two options, expanding the square or by going hybrid. We formed a small committee to explore our options, l then found out that SIS grass is actually a Dutch based company. This got me even more excited so l got in contact with them to have a chat. Over the summer more and more TV games were played on hybrids they were there for everyone to see. Speaking to some of the groundsman and players using them I got lots of feedback, mainly very positive.
After securing a council grant it was an easy choice, l am very lucky that the current board at the club is forward thinking, ever looking to invest so we can keep growing. We worked out the plan and the financials, we then got the green light end of July to get things started.
In what’s soil conditions was required post installation?
SIS grass was very good in guiding us through the project, after doing normal end of season renovations with the grass starting to recover. They came over a couple of times to check ground/soil conditions. Ideally, it’s about the same conditions as when you use the vertidrain. The only thing still left to do is cut the fibres to about 5mm using a cylinder mower, this will be done during individual pitch preparation when the grass is growing again in spring. It got a bit wet to do in November.
What’s are the main benefits you’re looking for from these hybrid pitches as a Groundspersons?
I’m not expecting miracles, pitches in the Netherlands tent to be a bit low and slow. We have had pretty good services over the last couple years so not expecting to gain much extra pace and bounce. However, l am looking forward to seeing how long a pitch lasts and its recovery time. All feedback from guys using them has been longer than a standard pitch while maintaining quality and quicker turn around, so I am excited to see how we go. Really pushed the limits of use last season, so hoping to get the same or more out of the square at a better quality
When can you start to use them and in terms of renovations, have you been given any advice?
We will be using them in April for the first time, it’s similar to vertidraining it takes about 2 to 3 months for the holes that were punched in to the square to get the holes in to close up. So, they should be ready to go at beginning of April.
As for renovations and maintaining the square I have been advised that nothing changes. They do recommend using a fieldtop maker or koro when renovating for best results, but scarify would do.
Have you been told to prepare or manage these hybrid pitches any different to your standard loam pitches?
No everything pretty much stays the same, all tough feedback has been that pitches dry out a bit quicker, but also take up water quicker again. I guess it’s about learning how your square reacts to different situations again, it might lead to slightly shorter prep time and having covers on while the sun is out to slow drying. We will have to wait and see.
What games are you permitted to use these hybrids for?
As far as I know at this stage, we can use them for all one-day games apart from men’s ODI games. T20i should be ok but finding out details about those now. We don’t really get first class games over here but they would not be able to be played on hybrids.
What’s the biggest things you learnt or found interesting during the installation process?
The concept is really so simple but the technique behind it, that gets everything done is awesome, if it delivers what it promises it would be great help for any club that can afford it. And again, the most interesting part is that it’s a Dutch innovation going mainstream in cricket.
If you found this a informative read, also check out this blog we did last year – https://turfcareblog.com/help-from-a-hybrid/
A Hybrid machine stitching a pitch at Sussex Cricket below