Heathcoat CC installed the very first hybrid cricket pitches in Devon earlier this week, welcoming clubs from across the county to observe the process.

The club, in conjunction with SIS Pitches, had kindly offered a 'drop-in' open day during the pitch installation, the first of a number of groundskeeper events this pre-season, with numerous clubs across the county attending to find out more about hybrid pitches and to see the machinery in action.

"Last season we saw 110 games through this square. We've looked at relaying the whole surface and felt that hybrids, for longevity purposes, is a better way to go."

SIS Pitches' machinery installing the first of Heathcoat CC's two hybrid pitches.Speaking on the decision to install the hybrid pitches at Knightshayes Court, Heathcoat CC Chairman, Dean Edwards, said:

"There are a number of reasons. We feel we're at capacity as a club: we have a large junior section, we've now got four adult teams playing over two grounds. Last season we saw 110 games through this square, which is too many. So we're looking at ways of improving the playability of the wicket.

"Some feedback, whether you believe it or not, is that the bounce is occasionally an issue here, so we've looked at relaying the whole surface and felt that hybrids, for longevity purposes, is a better way to go."

Speaking on the advantages of installing hybrid pitches Paul Taylor, International Sales Director at SIS Pitches, said:

"The main benefit [of installing a hybrid pitch], from a club perspective, is that they can get more matches played on the same number of pitches. We say that it's up to three times the amount of cricket, but it does vary, it can be a little bit more than that or it can be a little bit less than that, depending on what kind of cricket is being played.

"Fundamentally the turf is still 95% natural grass, so the playing characteristics are very similar, the difference being the foot hole damage at each end and the batting creases are massively reduced when compared to a fully natural pitch.

"The grass recovers a lot quicker after you finish playing on the surface, which means you can potentially play on them again before the end of the season, so you get double the benefit."

SIS Pitches' Paul Taylor gave a presentation on hybrid pitches to local groundskeepers.There is still a need to to renovate the pitches in the off-season, Paul explains:

"There are lots of pluses when it comes to end-of-season renovation. They do need renovating, they're not maintenance free. Having a stitch-pitch is great, but you do need to maintain it and you need to have the resources in place to do that. There's no difference in terms of preparation and there's no difference in terms of the renovation work that is needed.

"There are two ways of looking at this: you can either play the same number of games on fewer pitches, so it takes the pressure off the grounds staff, or you can play up to three times the amount of cricket on the same number of pitches, and then anything in between that."

The Devon Cricket Foundation's Funding & Facilities Manager, Nick Goodliffe added:

"As well as all the benefits identified by Paul, hybrids can also offer clubs some mitigation against ball strike risk, as more matches can be played on the pitches furthest away from the hazard.

"Additionally, the first hybrid pitches for cricket in England were laid seven or eight years ago and still remain in service, so there is history starting to develop, which should inspire more clubs to invest."

Groundskeepers observe the newly laid strips of hybrid pitch at Heathcoat CC.

The current cost of installing a hybrid cricket pitch is approximately £8,000, with each additional pitch costing c.£6,000. These prices may be subject to variation dependent on each location and pitch. Heathcoat CC have sourced the finances to fund the project from a number of sources, says Dean:

"Primarily local trusts and businesses have come up with the money. We're very grateful to that source of income, it's a long-term supporter of the club and we're extremely pleased that they're continuing to support the club. A couple of [other] local businesses have also contributed and the club has put its own money into this as well.

"The ECB don't currently offer grants or funding for this kind of project, but I think in the future they should as it's for the benefit of all local clubs and I genuinely think it's the way to go."

There could be some light at the end of the tunnel for such club pitch improvements, with the rollout of Pitchpower for cricket this summer. More details will be provided at these forthcoming ground events listed below.

Freshly-laid fibre tufts prior to the final cut.

Groundskeeping Events

South West Cricket  Grounds Maintenance Day at Taunton on Wednesday, March 12.

This now has a defined agenda which can be viewed by clicking here - Clubs can also register their intention to attend from this webpage, with a deadline of Monday, March 4 to do so.

Devon Cricket Pre-Season Grounds Maintenance Day at Abbotskerswell on Saturday, March 23.

The agenda for this day will be featured next week. In the meantime, clubs can already register their interest in attending by clicking here. We have extended the deadline for registration until Friday, March 8.


For further information and support on funding and facilities at your club, please get in touch with our Funding & Facilities Manager, Nick Goodliffe.

07801 178329