SISGrass invests in Indian cricket

SISGrass invests in Indian cricket: Hybrid cricket pitches have been installed at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium in Dharamshala, the first in what is expected to be a series of major projects across India in 2024 and beyond.

Completed by international sports pitches specialist SISGrass in partnership with Indian fine turf specialist company Greater Ten, the work represents the start of a drive towards improved playing surface quality and consistency at both amateur and professional levels, opening the nation’s most popular sport up to millions more people.

SISGrass invests in Indian cricket

SISGrass invests in Indian cricket

SISGrass’s investment in India follows a decision by the International Cricket Council to permit the use of hybrid surfaces for T20 and 50-over competition. After widespread success installing hybrids across English cricket grounds, the SIS team chose India as its next region of development. Paul Taylor, a former England international and SIS’s International Cricket Director, says the decision made sense for several reasons.

“India is home to millions of cricket fans, players and professionals who play almost all year round,” says Taylor. “This huge demand puts pressure on facilities, which can make it difficult for people to access good quality pitches in their local area. Our hybrid system will create far more opportunities for people to participate in the sport, guaranteeing a higher-quality of play at every level of competition.”

The Universal machine used in Dharamshala to install the hybrid surface was first developed by SISGrass in 2017. It injects a small percentage of polymer fibre with the natural turf found inside cricket stadiums. This composition is more resilient to stresses created during play, helping to prolong the life of pitches, guarantee an even bounce and ease pressure on busy groundspeople. Completed installations are predominantly natural grass, with only 5% of polymer fibre used. This ensures the characteristics of an all-natural pitch are maintained.

Speaking about the installation, Mr. R.P. Singh, Hony. President, HPCA, said, “The HPCA has consistently embraced the latest advances in cricket, and we believe SISGrass’s technology will be game-changing.

“Maintaining top-notch practice pitches is crucial for player development, as traditional surfaces struggle under the demands of rigorous training schedules. SISGrass’s integration of natural grass with synthetic fibres creates a robust and durable playing surface, ensuring players are prepared for competitive play. We are confident the installation will pave the way for a brighter future for Indian cricket, not just in Himachal Pradesh but across the nation.”

Hybrids have already been sanctioned by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for T20 and 50-over competitions, and in 2024 they will be used in four-day County Championship matches for the first time. The Universal machine in India will now travel to Ahmedabad and Mumbai, where it will stitch more pitches for practice and match play.

The first machine of its kind, the Universal has already proven effective in the UK, having been used to install SISGrass at almost every major county ground in England. These include Lord’s, The Kia Oval, Edgbaston, Emirates Old Trafford, Trent Bridge, among many others. The machine will remain in India after the first three installations are complete, making it immediately available to other grounds and facilities as projects are approved.

Richard Gould, CEO of ECB, added: “Hybrid pitches have played an important role in enabling some venues to manage an increased amount of cricket during the English summer as the fixture list across men’s and women’s international and domestic cricket has grown.”

The introduction of hybrid pitches represents an important moment for India’s national game, which has championed T20 cricket through the IPL. These shorter formats have been one of the main drivers behind the development of hybrid surfaces, with more intense periods of play making it harder to prepare all-natural surfaces in time for top-level competition.

“Cricket is often associated with tradition but the installation of SISGrass in India is a milestone of progress,” adds Taylor. “Our hybrid pitches will allow for longer periods of play than is possible with all-natural surfaces, helping to maintain a base level of performance for millions of players across the country. But the technology will also potentially transform grassroots-level cricket, giving juniors the chance to play on the same surfaces found in major stadiums. Our expansion in India is an investment in the future of the game at all levels.”

HPCA has already installed SISAir – another specialist technology business that forms part of the wider SIS Pitches portfolio. SISAir is a sports pitch aeration system that optimises root zone growing conditions, creating stronger and more durable grass. During heavy rainfall, SISAir will also remove excess surface water using a series of pipework installed underneath a playing surface. The technology is used widely across major stadia, including Galatasaray’s Rams Park.

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