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First-of-its-kind hybrid cricket pitch marks its arrival in India via Dharamshala
First-of-its-kind hybrid cricket pitch marks its arrival in India via Dharamshala

New Delhi, May 10 : Since the start of this millennium, innovation has been gaining currency in cricket – be it be via zing bails, spider cam, cricket bat sensor or hawk eye technology. In terms of pitches, a vital factor in teams deciding how they go about the game, there has been the addition of drop-in wickets.

But the addition of hybrid pitches into the cricketing ecosystem in England in 2017 grabbed the attention of many onlookers. SISGrass, a UK-based synthetic turf manufacturing company, which specialises in hybrid pitches not just in cricket, but also in football, rugby and hockey, have now brought this first-of-its-kind innovation to India.

In partnership with the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), SISGrass’ Universal Machine has installed two hybrid pitches each on the main square and practice area of the picturesque venue. In an in-depth conversation with IANS, Paul Taylor, the former England men’s cricketer, currently serving as International Sales Director, Cricket at SISGrass, spoke on what separates the hybrid pitch from a regular cricket surface.

“There are actually three different types of pitches. There is a pitch that lays a concrete base. There's then a profile of soil with an artificial carpet that's installed, and there's no natural grass in it. They call it a hybrid cricket surface because you can play cricket on it. There is another one which is what we call a carpeted hybrid, where you take the top sort of 60 millimetres of soil out.”

“You lay a carpet that's got a 60-millimetre-long pile. You put the soil and seed back in, grow seed in that top surface, and then play on it in terms of cricket. That's also a hybrid cricket surface. The one that we do is using the existing pitch. So we don't dig out anything. We just inject artificial fibers into the natural surface.”

“It's stitched at 20 millimetre by 20 millimetre matrix across the whole width and length of the pitch. We also extend beyond the stump line, so that where the bowlers land with their back foot before they bowl is also a hybrid surface because it's a high wear area.”

Taylor was glowing in explaining the benefits of hybrid cricket pitches, a term which he admits can be quite confusing at times. “One of the benefits of this system is it protects high wear areas quite nicely. We stitch to a depth of 90 millimetres with a six-ply polyethylene fibre.”

“That can be different colours depending on the surface of the colour of the pitches normally. We can have green, beige and a mixture of both. So there's a lot of flexibility in the type of colour that we can inject into the surface. The key thing is it's still 95% natural turf; that is the key criteria to this. So the performance of the pitch should and will not change.”

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