Photo Credit: Cricket Ireland
The next two matches in The HBV Studios Women’s International Cricket Series between Ireland Women and South Africa Women will be played on a hybrid pitch after Cricket Ireland was granted permission by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
It is currently not permitted under ICC Regulations to play international men’s matches on hybrid pitches, however, women’s internationals are permitted. Cricket Ireland, after seeking support from Cricket South Africa and the ICC, has allocated the next two T20Is of the current series to be played on the newly installed hybrid pitches at Pembroke Cricket Club.
Hybrid cricket pitches feature at many cricket grounds in the UK, including Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is also similar technology to that found across many top-flight football grounds. The hybrid pitch technology features 90-95% natural grass, complemented by loops of plastic yarn inserted into the ground using a laser-guided stitching machine, helping to bind the grass roots together.
Cricket Ireland has monitored and engaged with grounds in the UK on the performance of hybrid pitches over recent years and believe that they will be of significant benefit to the Irish environment.
Operations Director of SISGrass, Thomas Alcock outlines the difference between a normal grass pitch and a hybrid one:
“A hybrid pitch is a 95% natural pitch, reinforced with 5% polyethylene fibre, and installed to 90mm depth on a 2 x 2cm spacing, resulting in pitches that are considerably more hard-wearing. They are very consistent and can often have increased pace and bounce. Hybrid pitches will also dry quicker.”
When asked if the pitches favour batters or bowlers, or if they were perceptive to spin, Alcock said:
“As a 95% natural pitch, the role of the curator/groundsman still remains vital. Pitch conditions (hardness/moisture/amount of grass etc) will still impact how the pitch plays. As the pitch is more hard-wearing, spinners will need to rely more on bounce and turn, instead of actual wear on the pitch. The ball doesn’t react any differently on a hybrid pitch.”
High Performance Director for Cricket Ireland, Richard Holdsworth, explains the rationale behind the move to a hybrid pitch for the remaining T20Is:
“Having had good feedback on performance from recently installed hybrid pitches in Dublin, and the fact that South Africa will play on hybrids at the Commonwealth Games in July, we felt it was a good opportunity to use one in the T20Is, and hence will use one for the next two matches. Currently, hybrid pitches can be used in women’s international but not men’s without ICC’s approval, however, the use of them for this International T20 series has been supported by the ICC and Cricket South Africa.
“Over 30 hybrid pitches were installed between March and May in Ireland, including the practice nets at the Cricket Ireland High Performance Centre at the Sport Ireland Campus, and we have been very pleased with how quickly they have established and settled. There is no doubt that if the performance and the significant increase in wear and tear on these pitches is successful they will become an incredibly important part of future grounds in Ireland given the generally small number of strips on cricket squares at most venues. They will also significantly aid the durability of practice grass wickets for training of our international and domestic First-class teams.”
The series dates are:
• 3 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st T20I (Ireland won by 10 runs)
• 6 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 2nd T20I (Pembroke, 4.30pm start)
• 8 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 3rd T20I (Pembroke, 4.30pm start)
• 11 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
• 14 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 2nd ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
• 17 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 3rd ODI (Clontarf, 10.45am start)
The three ODIs will be Ireland Women’s first fixtures as part of the ICC Women’s Championship.
All matches will be livestreamed and available at www.livestream.com/CricketIrelandLive.
Tickets to the matches are €5 adults, under-16s go free, with online ticket sales at: www.cricketireland.ie/tickets.