Compared to a natural turf cricket surface, artificial cricket pitches are very low maintenance. However, to fulfil the true potential of the artificial cricket pitch, regular maintenance or up-keep is still required. The main objective is to complete regular inspections and maintain the facility in accordance with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ‘TS6’ document.
Total-play’s range of three ECB approved artificial cricket pitch systems – tp365; tp5t and tpb1 incorporate the highest specification of components to provide longevity and performance. As such, the system requires NO rolling or watering by the client. However, there are a key series of maintenance tasks that should be carried out on the surface to ensure maximum lifespan and performance.
Keeping the artificial cricket pitch surface clean and free from contaminants is the only real work that clubs themselves will have to carry out on total-play designed and installed systems.
Contaminants come in the form of leaves, grass, moss, soil and algae. To protect the aggregate base from contamination, it is vital that the playing surface carpet pile does not retain these materials. Another reason that artificial cricket pitches should be kept clean is to avoid trip hazards.
The initial removal of debris – such as leaves and other organic material – can be completed using a powered blower, a hand brush or a powered brush. First, use a stiff bristle brush, remove any soil/mud from the surface. If the playing surface is still unclean then a powered water jet can be used. Care must be taken here though as water acts as a carrier and can transport contaminants from the surface into the construction materials; thus affecting the drainage rates and performance of the aggregate profile.
Contaminants should not be allowed to remain on the artificial cricket pitch for any length of time. They will rapidly rot down and encourage the growth of moss and algae, which will result in a slippery and dangerous surface. Dirt combined with the loss of pile height in the carpet due to wear can become a real health and safety issue.
The infestation of weeds at the edge of an artificial cricket pitch is not uncommon – again, this is something that clubs can deal with in house. Weeds or grasses can be ‘sprayed off’ using a commercial household total weed killer with ‘glyphosate’ as an active ingredient.
All total-play’s ECB approved artificial cricket pitch systems carry comprehensive and generous warranties. They are designed to offer clubs a sound investment that, provided the recommended maintenance tasks are carried out in the correct manner and recommended timescales, should last a lifetime.
Carpets are generally the first element of the system to start showing signs of wear and tear. Whist total-play’s base constructions carry guarantees of 30 years (tp365 and tp5t) and 12 years (tpb1), carpets on all systems will need replacing during this lifespan (the Wilton woven carpet used for tp365 and tpb1 carries a 12 year guarantee, whereas the tufted carpet used in tp5t carries a 7 year warranty).
Excessive wear to the carpet may result in a loss of traction or grip, and therefore pose the possibility of slipping. Therefore regular inspections, paying special attention should to the batting and bowlers’ ends are essential. Check that the carpet fibres should have not folded over and lost their structure; this can be completed using a stiff broom to brush the areas. The batting crease is a ‘high impact area’ and should be monitored carefully by the client. Another way to prevent excessive wear is to discourage discouraged from ‘tapping’ their bat, as the repeated action of bat striking the ground will create a depression in the base construction and eventually wear out the playing surface carpet and shock pad.
It is also important to note that, at the present time, total-play artificial cricket pitches are not designed for spiked footwear. However, carpet developments will occur one day to allow spikes to be used. In the meantime, it is recommended that footwear with metal studs/spikes are not used as both will damage the playing surface; the ideal footwear is soft soled, rubber cricket boots.
When a new artificial cricket pitch is installed, whether the surface is an artificial cricket match pitch at the side of the square, or an outfield artificial cricket nets facility will have been constructed to perform to the same standards set out by the ECB. Surface levels are critical to this; providing a consistent ball bounce and player comfort.
Surface levels will change with climatic conditions and usage. The higher the usage, the greater the wear will be on the artificial cricket pitch carpets, shock pads and the base construction. Use of bowling machines dramatically increases the usage; shortening the lifespan and increasing the maintenance required on any non-turf pitch facility. For this reason, total-play recommends the tpB1 system with its bound – or engineered – Asphalt base for lanes to be used with bowling machines, as the surface levels have greater longevity; meaning less maintenance early on. This also makes tpB1 especially suited to clubs in high flood risk areas, as the action of water can dislodge the stone layers of a dynamic base like tp365 and tp5t.
On the flip side, dynamic bases have a far longer overall lifespan – once a bound, engineered or Asphalt base (like tpb1) starts to show wear, it will need reconstructing from scratch. A dynamic base can, however, be re-levelled indefinitely. For this reason you will find a significant difference in warranties on the two types of base – the dynamic base in both tp365 and tp5t has a 36 year warranty, whereas tpB1 has a 12 year warranty – the same lifespan as its carpet.
It is important to note that ANY issues with surface levels – be they due to wear and tear, displacement or misuse – should only be handled by total-play technicians.
To summarise, here’s a handy list of what tasks that should be carried out, by whom and roughly how often:
Painting of crease marks (by client)
Removal of debris (by client)
Surface relevelling (by total-play operatives)
Carpet repairs (depends on severity – call total-play for advice)
Worn carpet / shockpad replacement (by total-play)
In addition to offering comprehensive artificial cricket pitch aftercare packages and for new total-play installed systems, the team can also offer similar services for clubs’ existing artificial cricket pitch systems.