When you picture a cricket pitch, what comes to mind?
Is it an immaculate grass surface full of runs that does a bit for the bowler? How you answer might well depend on your particular skillset.
As a league bowler of ever diminishing pace down the years, a green top that got the ball seaming off the surface or a baked deck that offered steep bounce were personal preferences.
Yet most of us, in our more reflective moments, would be happy with a strip that led to an even contest between bat and ball.
Once upon a time, that meant seed, loam, scarification (no, I don’t really know what that means either) and love and care over an entire calendar year.
While there are patient and skilful groundsmen who are out there tending their grass in all weather, the game has moved on to accommodate other surface options too.
ARTIFICIAL IS NO BAD THING IN CRICKET…
The word ‘artificial’ tends to come with somewhat negative connotations – a copy of something natural being the broad meaning. But a portable cricket pitch? Now you’re talking…
What do you know about the Flicx 2G pitch?
It may not echo the thrill compared to cricket bats, coloured kit and flashing bails but the merits of quality, artificial pitches deserve their place in our thinking.
MEMORIES OF SCHOOL
We didn’t have a Flicx 2G pitch at school; in fact, I’m pretty sure the surface on which my metallic springback stumps were constantly rearranged was like batting on a carpet in the living room.
When I played cricket at school, I first developed a DNA-engrained fear of being reconfigured by a cricket ball and would flinchingly step away to leg.
What made any semblance of sane and worthwhile practice all the more challenging was the ragged, worn artificial matting that had holes in so the concrete beneath showed through.
It meant that even those heroic moments when you galloped forward against fiendishly fast bowling, there was always a chance that the ball would do quite unexpected things from meteoric bounce to deadly pea rollers.
WHY CHOOSE THE FLICX 2G PITCH?
- Minutes to set up
- Reliable pace and bounce
- Convert anywhere into a cricket pitch
- Use it summer, winter, indoors or outdoors
The convenience and versatility across a plethora of scenarios has to be its star quality.
If the Flicx 2G was a cricketer, it would be Sir Ian Botham, Wasim Akram or Jacques Kallis.
The ultimate allrounder.
Or, for anyone who doesn’t remember cricket in all its pixelated glory on the BBC in decades past, substitute in Kieron Pollard, Glenn Maxwell or Darren Sammy.
Despite a much-publicised drop off in amateur participation, plenty of cricket clubs across the UK have limited space and cricket squares for juggling senior and junior matches.
You don’t have to prepare grass wickets, touch up white lines with that wooden, paint-splattered level we all use or do anything but roll out a pitch and get playing.
ATTRACTING NEW PLAYERS & BOOSTING PARTICIPATION
Much has been debated around how to get more people playing cricket.
It’s not a single approach but a philosophy where making it easy and enjoyable for everyone of all ages and abilities is the way to go.
But being able to offer something distinctive and innovative when it comes to facilities is a real plus.
Whether it’s a cricket square or in a field, on a beach or in a sports hall, a cricket surface you can trust is an argument for quality of practice and value for money.
Talking to Head of PE at Sacred Heart School in Battersea, Mark Costin, his school stumped up for a 2G Flicx Match pitch to guarantee a playing surface where the bounce was true.
In his case, the investment was well worth it because it made for consistent junior cricket practice and pushed the better cricketers who no longer had to rely on a makeshift, bobbly football pitch.
With no groundsman or expertise to prepare grass wickets, a drop-on pitch made a lot of sense for this South London school and Mark needed little prompting to praise the upgrade:
“It’s absolutely transformed the standard of cricket that we can teach and then play matches against other schools.”
Mark Costin, Head of PE, Sacred Heart School (Battersea).
He also makes the valid point that the Last Man Stands format has gone some way to breaking the taboo, and perhaps even snobbery, that we should all play on a grass wicket rather than an artificial pitch.
Flicx have caught the headlines repeatedly in reinforcing the message around the fact their 2G pitches can be used anywhere – by using them everywhere.
Up mount Kilimanjaro for a world record of the highest game of cricket? Check. Down a mine? Check.
These aren’t just marketing stunts – though they make for a cracking headline – they emphasise the versatility that a living, breathing grass surface can’t compete with.
FUNDING YOUR FLICX PITCH
The Flicx 2G pitch is an investment for sure (prices broadly range from £560 to £3,400) but one that should last for years and pay for itself to boot, if you’re canny.
What are my three top tips?
1. Use the pitch itself to advertise a sponsor with a logo
2. Speak to your local cricket development manager through your county board for advice on latest funding streams
3. Talk to external organisations like 4Grants who can help apply for funding opportunities on your behalf (for a fee)
Making use of new advertising spaces – like on this Flicx 2G pitch – is the way to go.
Needless to say, they offer fantastic photo opportunities which your sponsors and supporters will really appreciate and they can then share on their social media channels for some welcome publicity and kudos.
With Flicx, you can customise the colour of your pitch with 6 palette colours as well as other shades available on request.
TYPES OF PITCH
For the newcomer, there isn’t just one Flicx pitch, there’s a hat-trick to choose from…
2G Flicx Match pitch
The all-green design is available in a variety of lengths. It’s the most likely candidate for realistic game play.
2G Skills Pitch
This is a coaching aid that benefit coaches and junior cricketers in clubs and schools. Bowling and batting targets helps your players aim for a consistent line and length (the red central stripe highlights wicket-to-wicket for accuracy).
2G Flicx Eagle-eyed Pitch
Want your own Hawk eye referral system integrated into your cricket pitch? Of course you do!
Coloured tiles illustrate whether a ball is good, full or short in length.
Obvious benefits come from the ease for coaches explaining technique visually to bowlers who can see where they’re bowling and for batsmen deciding on appropriate shot selection.
With its multi-coloured look, everyone can get involved when it comes to appealing – but just remember, you might have Hawkeye but there’s no TV replays (unless the coach/teacher rigs up a video camera and live feed)!
NEW FLICX VIDEO
The good people at Flicx (who include Kate who handles the marketing and Rich, the founder) – have commissioned a video (by marketing agency Katapult in Derby) that gives you a flavour of what Flicx are about and how their pitches can be used in all sorts of scenarios.
Companies face a creative challenge whenever they put together content encouraging you to buy their product.
Their story, through a friendly animation, does better than most in telling you what a club or school might need to know if they’re considering improving their facilities.
Spare the time if you can to watch the video and share it on social media if you think it’s neat.
LABOSPORT STAMP OF APPROVAL
One final sign of approval for you about the Flicx 2G pitches.
Labosport UK have been providing testing, research and innovations for the sports industry since 1993 and are the specialists the England and Wales Cricket Board use to get technical advice for non-turf wickets.
Flicx 2G pitches were independently tested by Labosport UK where the new 2G surface came out far superior in terms of its performance with reduced slip and improved ball bounce.
Buying an artificial cricket pitch isn’t usually an overnight decision. You’re bound to have questions and to wish to discuss what product works best for your circumstances.
In that case, why not contact the manufacturer, Flicx, directly with any questions on 01295 816765 or visit their website: http://www.flicx.com
If you decide to go ahead, Barrington Sports stock the Flicx range of pitches.
**This is a sponsored article – if the mood takes you, click to read out Cricket Yorkshire’s policy on sponsored content**