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21 June 2017
SISGrass machine, hybrid, National Cricket Performance Centre, Loughborough

The ECB are the first to install a trial wicket using SIS Pitches’ latest innovation in the world of hybrid surfaces, SISGrass Universal.

Combining speed, mobility and laser precision, SIS Pitches’ game-changing hybrid pitch system, SISGrass Universal, is the latest addition to the company’s award-winning technology.

The pitches combine a majority of natural turf grass with around 5% of twisted yarn. In football, that has led to considerable improvements in stability and durability and is being used in the Luzhniki Stadium for the 2018 World Football Cup Final in Russia. Now the ECB are able to investigate whether there could be equivalent advantages for cricket, especially for the recreational game.

Chris Wood, the ECB’s Pitches Consultant, explained: “This goes back several years to a conversation I had with Darren Baldwin, the Head Groundsman of Tottenham Hotspur.

“The majority of Premier League venues now use hybrid pitches, and even to the casual observer of football, I think it’s obvious that those pitches have been of a far more consistently high quality, around all clubs and throughout the season.

“That is because introducing a relatively small amount of artificial twisted yarn greatly improves the stability of the surface underfoot, and allows the sward to endure the long football season with a consistent playing performance.

“We have had to wait to apply this technique to cricket – there have been semi-hybrid pitches, but using artificial turf with cricket loam infill rather than natural grass. But now SISGrass have developed a new, more compact stitching unit than has been used for football. We took the machine to Loughborough last week and have laid one pitch on the square and another in the outdoor nets.

“We’ve used a straw-coloured yarn, rather than the brighter green in use in football, to make it look as authentic as possible. They still need to be seeded and enhanced, but we hope they will be playable in the near future.

“Possible advantages are increased durability of pitches for matchplay and practice, with prolonged uniformity of grass cover.

“It is fitting that we have installed the pitches at Loughborough, as our centre for innovation around cricket.”

Phil Blackwell, SISGrass Director in the UK, added; “It is very exciting to be partnering with the ECB on this project.

“SISGrass Universal has already made a big impact on the industry across all sports that haven’t been able to access the benefits of hybrid pitch systems in the past.  We have managed to combine all of the qualities of our flagship SISGrass product and make them accessible to all.”

SISGrass Universal is an advanced reinforced turf system featuring patented fibre injection technology, utilising yarn that is tested to international standards, which offers increased surface stability, more playing hours and faster recovery than 100% natural grass surfaces.

Just 1.20m wide, 2m in length and weighing a maximum of two tons, SISGrass Universal offers flexibility of stitching at every location quickly and accurately, with different depths, spacing or size using precise laser guidance, making it the perfect solution for groundskeepers who are challenged to maintain uniform grass quality in high-wear areas.