As any cricketer knows, the quality of the pitch can have a big impact on how the ball behaves. Pitches that are uneven or pitted can cause the ball to bounce erratically, pitches that are very hard will make the ball bounce high and fast, while pitches that are covered in grass will minimise the amount that a spin bowler can turn the ball.
To standardise the playing surface and provide a wicket that can be used in all conditions, many leisure centres, schools and cricket clubs use artificial pitches. Though artificial pitches are more durable than natural pitches, they also need regular maintenance to keep them in tip top condition. Luckily, even old, neglected pitches can be brought back to life with a bit of TLC and the right treatment.
Artificial pitches can be laid on either a dynamic (stone) or non-dynamic (macadam or concrete) base. The surface of the wicket itself is made of high quality short pile carpet which is either timber edged and nailed or nailed directly into the aggregate. Shock pads are also installed beneath the surface of the pitch to ensure the ball bounces properly and that the artificial surface responds the same way to the ball every time, no matter what the weather.
Maintaining an artificial pitch
Like all artificial surfaces, artificial cricket pitches need to be properly maintained if they’re to offer the best possible playing surface throughout the year. We recommend that anyone using an artificial cricket pitch should employ an annual deep clean programme, level the batting area on a regular basis and use at least one chemical treatment every six months.
Even with regular maintenance, cricket pitches can deteriorate over time, shock pads can harden and surfaces can become uneven. If you notice that the bounce of the ball is becoming uneven or that the surface is looking tired and worn, it may be time to give your artificial pitch a facelift.
Bringing an artificial wicket back to life
If an artificial pitch has seen better days, there are lots of ways to bring it back to its former glory. Pitches that are worn down or that have become patchy through excessive use can be revitalised by replacing the carpet, while shock pads that have hardened over time can quickly and easily be replaced.
As Mike Selvey, cricket correspondent for the Guardian, says
“The surfaces on which the game is played have to be consistent, which brings me back to the provision of non-turf pitches not as a second best to grass, but as the best way not just to offer something that is relatively maintenance-free, but also true and reliable”
With the right maintenance, artificial pitches really are the best option for budding cricketers.