Good news at last for Sowerby Bridge cricketers as Lord’s provide new experimental pitch

FLOOD-HIT Sowerby Bridge have become the first cricket club in Yorkshire to trial a stitched hybrid pitch.

Action: Sowerby Bridge CC v Booth CC.

The ENCO Halifax League club were chosen for this endeavour by the England and Wales Cricket Board, who are looking at how hybrid pitches, which have been used in the county game since 2017, can transfer into the recreational game.

The installation was undertaken by SIS Grass UK and other clubs in England and Wales are also taking part.

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The pitch at Sowerby Bridge perhaps chosen for their vulnerability to flooding, will be used for several league or cup matches to establish whether it is possible to increase the number of games it can withstand.

Laying the hybrid pitch.

Sowerby Bridge CC chairman Stephen Jordan said: “We were delighted when we were approached by ECB facilities planning manager Suzanne Redfern to be part of this test – a much-appreciated plus after all the trials and tribulations we have had in recent years.

“To be honest, we hope the rainfall part of the test does not include flood water! We believe our selection shows how much the profile of the Halifax League has risen in recent times.

“The pitch has another four weeks to bed in so we are planning to first use it in mid-May. Its maintenance is hardly any different to that of a standard pitch, other than the cutting is done with blades at 6mm rather than the usual 5mm to avoid any damage to the technology.

“Once in use we will seeking feedback from all players and officials who are involved in a match on it, and all will be collated as part of a report and we thank everyone in anticipation of that.”

Flooding: At Sowerby Bridge Cricket Club.

Hybrid pitch technology has been more widely used previously in both football and both codes of rugby.

However, at professional level, hybrid cricket pitches were initially laid at Surrey, Middlesex (Lord’s), Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Glamorgan, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Durham and Worcestershire.

The technology breakthrough has been possible thanks to SISGrass Universal, a compact and 100 per cent electric machine that has patented fibre injection technology and combines speed, mobility and laser precision.

Ground work: Sowerby Bridge CC v Booth CC.