Non-Turf Pitch Design Fundamentals

Non-Turf Pitch Design Fundamentals

Artificial Cricket Pitch Design

An artificial cricket pitch can be a real asset to clubs of all levels; offering a low-maintenance alternative to traditional natural turf pitches for both match play and practice. For over a decade, the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) has worked with installers to ensure that their pitch designs and installation techniques meet specific standards and performance benchmarks. Most funding streams that back artificial cricket pitch installation projects require the pitch the club chooses to be an ECB approved system design and that it is installed by a team that has passed its Code of Practice for the installation of non-turf cricket pitches.

Experts in artificial cricket pitch design

total-play Ltd is a market leader in the design – and installation – of artificial cricket pitches. It has developed no less than three ECB approved artificial cricket pitch designs to offer clubs unrivalled choice. These artificial cricket pitch designs were developed by MD David Bates who, as a former professional cricketer and first class groundsman has a unique insight into cricket pitch performance. The company was also the first to become an ECB Code of Practice Installer and its team has vast experience of designing and building artificial cricket pitches for clients that include clubs from grass roots to first class and leading Independent Schools.

A tailored solution

When designing an artificial cricket pitch for a client, total-play will recommend one of its six ECB approved system designs depending on a range of factors – including budget and level of play as well as observations and the results of a battery of tests taken at initial site visit. However, while this element of the artificial cricket pitch will be installed to the precise specification approved by the ECB, there are a vast range of bespoke elements that clients can choose from to tailor their new artificial cricket pitch to their individual needs.

One such example is an open vs a fully enclosed system – some clubs opt for a cricket practice nets facility that is open at the bowler’s end, whilst others require a facility that is fully enclosed by netting for reasons of both safety and security. A good example of this is where the new cricket practice nets system is adjacent to housing or is next to a playing field – a fully enclosed system will prevent balls flying out of the facility and causing damage.

Security fencing and lockable gates are also a common request – especially for clubs that are based within a public or shared sports ground, to help prevent vandalism or unofficial use. Other features that can be ‘designed in’ to an artificial cricket pitch design are focused on the geographical setting – for example, it may be necessary to raise the ground where the pitch will be sited to help prevent flooding, or to correct a slope to provide the precise surface levels demanded by the ECB’s Performance Quality Standards. All of these are things that total-play will take into account and build into its proposal; with its experienced team of grounds workers able to carry out all additional works, including landscaping on completion.

Some bespoke elements are purely cosmetic – for example, a school may want the steel framework of its cricket practice nets facility to be powder coated to match its uniform colours; or a club in a scenic setting may opt for green as opposed to black netting and green powder coated steelwork to minimise visual impact. Other elements of artificial cricket pitch design are associated with coaching – carpets are available in single-tone green, two-tone green or blue and green options and white coaching lines can be woven into the carpet to help hone skills We also offer a range of cricket equipment including catching practice devices. Nets can be fitted with white batting curtains & catch nets with white mesh to create sight screens and also anti-vermin skirts to help prevent damage to the carpet by rats and mice.

In choosing total-play to design their new artificial cricket pitch, clubs can rest assured that things like a deeper aggregate base, thicker than usual steelwork for netting frames and full-width carpet to minimise maintenance – alongside a host of options – will provide a future-proof investment.

ECB approved non-turf cricket pitch designs

A driving force behind the rise of artificial cricket pitch popularity has been the ECB itself; which has put in place a set of criteria that artificial cricket pitches must meet to gain the board’s approval. To qualify for funding from various governing bodies for sport, clubs must install an ECB approved artificial cricket pitch design – one which meets all of its ‘Performance Standards for Non-Turf Cricket Pitches Intended for Outdoor Use’.

This comprehensive document provides benchmarks which pitch designs must meet to gain ECB approved status. Performance Requirements cover “the ball/surface and player/surface interactions considered necessary to allow a satisfactory game of cricket to take place”. Construction Requirements “define the dimensions, tolerances and gradients for match pitches and practice areas to ensure they provide a satisfactory playing environment”. And Materials Requirements “define the quality of the synthetic material used to construct non-turf pitches to ensure they will last for a realistic period of time”.

Performance tested artificial cricket pitches

Depending on the level of play the artificial cricket pitch is required for – 1. Junior (under 12s); 2. Club/Recreational and 3. First Class Cricket and Centres of Excellence – the performance benchmarks will vary. Artificial cricket pitch designs are put forward by suppliers for rigorous testing across all of these areas with the surface tested in site tests; in wet area conditions and in the laboratory. If a design meets the necessary requirements for performance, construction and materials it then undergoes Identification Tests. This sees the construction of materials used thoroughly tested so they cannot be replaced by inferior alternatives. The materials having been identified, the system is then deemed an ECB approved artificial cricket practice pitch system design and may be used for match play, practice, coaching and general training at the level to which was proven to perform.

Alongside this thorough testing of system designs, the ECB offers suppliers the chance to pass its voluntary ‘Code of practice for design and installation of non-turf cricket facilities’. This sets out the recommended minimum standards for designers, installers and suppliers of approved systems. When seeking external funding for a new artificial cricket pitch, clubs must appoint a supplier that not only offers an ECB approved system design but holds the Code of Practice supplier status.