Cricket Facility Upgrade – Solihull School

25th September 2014

When Solihull School’s Head Groundsman, Karl Brotherhood, embarked on a project to upgrade the school’s cricket practice facilities to include a state-of-the-art non-turf practice net system, investing in a quality solution was key. With cricket facilities in use for only a few months of the year, the impact of the system on coaching needed to be such that it made the investment well and truly worthwhile; so Karl researched the market thoroughly to find the right supplier:

“Until we installed this system, the cricket practice facilities consisted of three non-turf and three natural turf wickets that simply weren’t up to performance standards. The natural wickets were getting little use due to poor weather, so to ensure that we had a system that could not only perform to the required standards but also could be used whatever the weather, we decided to install a non-turf practice facility built to ECB approved specification.

“We researched a number of suppliers, but it was a visit to Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School that made us realise total-play were our supplier of choice. The system was excellent, David Bates impressed us with his knowledge and advice and we liked the fact that the company undertook in-house fitting and met the ECB’s code of practice for installing non-turf systems. To top it all, the quote was very close to those for the other three suppliers we approached; so the decision was made.”

total-play’s solution to the school’s needs came in the form of a six-lane, 33m fully enclosed practice facility based on the company’s tp365 ECB Approved Pitch System. Before the installation started, the total-play team cleared the site of the existing practice pitches and undertook all preparatory ground works ready for the laying of the new dynamic sub-base, shock pads and carpets. The team then installed tailor-made steelwork and fitted it with total-play’s unique HD Protection Tunnel netting system; which creates a ‘cocoon’ in each lane to not only protect players from errant balls from adjacent lanes but also reduces repairs and maintenance due to consistent tension throughout the netting.

The specification was completed with the inclusion of white coaching lines in four of the six lanes, as requested by the client, and provision of space suitable to locate the school’s new spin bowling machine. The feedback, to date, has been excellent – as Karl explains:

“You always tend to get some gripes when a new sports facility is installed but the response to the new cricket facility has been overwhelmingly positive – in fact, the only thing I think I would change in hindsight would be to have white coaching lines installed on all six lanes as they have proven such a useful training aid.”

The school’s Master in Charge of Cricket, former Warwickshire and England Test all-rounder Darren Maddy, is equally impressed:

“The new total-play cricket surfaces have made a huge improvement to our practice facilities. The enclosed netting structure creates a safe practice environment and the pace and bounce of the surface is consistent – I would highly recommend having stump lines on all of the practice wickets as this is a great coaching tool to help both batsman and bowlers.”

And David Smith of Complete Cricket, which supports the School’s cricket coaching programme, says:

“The recent installation of six non-turf nets at Solihull School has not only been a practical success but the quality of the surfaces have improved the players and given them confidence to take into matches. The surface allows batsmen to play attacking cricket shots and also bowlers to have pace and consistent bounce.”

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