With the advent of March, the outdoor cricket season begins to feel tantalizingly close but for thousands across the UK, indoor cricket remains a popular route to weather-proof practice and a chance to hone technique.
At Headingley for the Cricket Club Expo event recently, a new cricket surface, the 2G Flicx Pitch, caught the eye in terms of innovation and its multi-use functionality.
(Editor’s note: **This is a sponsored article, written for Flicx UK – if the mood takes you, click to read our Cricket Yorkshire’s policy on sponsored content**)
We first met the Managing Director of Flicx, Richard Beghin, several years ago in a Leeds hotel to talk about his own cricketing journey; one that began with wanting to improve cricket facilities in his native South Africa.
From inspiration back home where the first pitch was rolled out in August 1997 at Telkom Country Club in Pretoria, the Flicx pitch went global and its success filtered across to the UK where it went down a storm at the England & Wales Cricket Board’s Coaches Conference and the ECB slapped in an order for 800.
If we fast-forward to 2014, the advances in artificial cricket pitches have led to the new features which mark out the 2G Flicx Pitch, manufactured and in stock here in the UK.
Technology continues to push the envelope; we have 4G broadband, 4K ultra-high-definition TV and now the very latest in cricket surfaces.
So, what’s new and improved?
With any synthetic surface for playing cricket, whether in a club or school environment or other sporting facility, quality of practice is fundamental. The bounce of the ball; the traction off the ground and how it reacts to spin and seam are all better than ever before.
Gone are the days when it was acceptable to roll out some moth-eaten green carpet with lumps and bumps in a sports hall with a flickering light.
What ticked a lot of boxes in terms of telling the world about the latest product development from Flicx was that they’ve clearly thought about making the equipment have its broadest appeal.
The softer nature of the 2G pitch means it’s a great solution for the indoor game to mimic realistic carry and ensure junior or senior training sets the standard everyone wants.
Apart from wanting to see your booming legspinners turn at right angles (as they hopefully also would on actual grass), having sure footing is vital for safety and peace of mind which is why the 2G range promises a reduction in the surface slipperiness when wet.
Take Your Pick: Flicx 2G Match, Skills & Eagle-Eyed Pitches
There are essentially three versions of the pitch to consider:
1. Flicx 2G Match Pitch
This all-green, traditional design made from the new 2G Flicx Pitch tiles is available in six different lengths. The match pitch is most suitable for game play achieving a consistent bounce on a wide range of surfaces. Just roll it out and play…
2. 2G Flicx Skills Pitch
Thumbs up to this ideal coaching aid for young players in schools and clubs. Bowling and batting targets will help your players achieve a consistent line and length (the red central stripe hones the concentration).
Available for use with both hard balls and soft balls and rolled out on any playing surface
3. 2G Flicx Eagle-eyed Pitch
What we most like about this version is the way it imitates the Hawk Eye referral system for international cricket with different, coloured tiles illustrating full length, good length and short length bowls to bolster training and inject an element of fun.
It should certainly enhance decision making in stroke play by setting up suitable drills and anything that complements the usual net sessions and freshens training is a plus.
Club endorsements: People in the Know
A new, mobile cricket pitch is an investment that understandably requires research, planning and seeking the opinion from others. You want to have the assurance that the pitch will do everything you want it to and last for many years.
So, clubs who’ve bought cricket equipment like this are worth listening to and Harpenden CC were one of the first clubs to take delivery of a 2G.
Michael Brookes is Director of Cricket at Harpenden, who boast an impressive seven Saturday teams, three Sunday sides and a midweek eleven in Hertfordshire.
He had this to say on the new acquisition: “The Flicx 2G pitches are a great product; a useful practice tool for both batters and bowlers in a range of different environments.“
“They are also very flexible and we plan to use them as a match surface for some of our younger age groups saving on the time and cost of pitch preparation.”
The point about allocating resources and not wearing out the square (or the groundsman’s patience) is a valid one. Many clubs have senior and junior cricket throughout the summer and with the volume of cricket, there’s definitely something to be said for rolling out a pitch in next to no time and cracking on.
Indoor cricket revelation…
Dartfordians Cricket Club are based at Bexley’s Memorial ground in Kent and have their indoor nets at Beths Grammar School. Their Coach, Mike Lanning, has seen real benefits in investing in a surface that can be relied on:
”It is really important for effective cricket coaching – especially for batting and bowling – that the training surface provides a consistent and good bounce. At our local sports hall we tried to use hard balls on a fibre mat laid on their sprung wooden floor, but it wasn’t successful as the ball didn’t bounce at all – it simply died on the surface.”
“Our trial of the new 2G Flicx mat dealt successfully with this problem – the bounce using hard balls was good and trustworthy, comparable to an outdoor surface for both seam and spin bowling. The mat is now allowing us to train much more effectively in the hall with both colts and seniors; we can now, for example, use the bowling machine there for the first time.”
A word about bespoke cricket pitches and the art of the possible with Flicx. While it’s true that a grass outfield could have sponsor logos cut into the grass itself, you might need a groundsman with experience of crop circles.
With the Flicx 2G, you can choose from a range of six palette colours (with other shades available on request). So for the non-traditionalists, how about a bright wicket that will really make the ball stand out?
Plus, there’s the advantage of adding club logos and/or sponsor brands to the pitch as a great selling point for cricket clubs. A club sponsor’s brand gets real impact from being viewed in the heart of the action.
Multi-Use Magic in Summer
Converting an existing sports field into a cricketing venue is a stroke of genius and easily done with one of these showcased 2G pitches. Fields that are usually the domain for football or rugby can be transformed in the summer just by rolling out a Flicx Pitch – all with very little preparation and no damage to the grass beneath.
A Flicx pitch has been rolled out before over a 3G rubbercrumb pitch at Puerto del Carmen where Lanzarote Cricket Club use it as a match pitch and regularly host touring teams.
Again, versatility is the name of the game here. The 2G Flicx range makes an ideal replacement wicket to go on top of any existing artificial surface that might have seen better days and be damaged. This could be either a full size astro wicket or a batting end in the nets. It’s a cost-effective overlay without more substantial ground reconstruction and development.
Whenever and whatever we buy, the quality of the product allied with great reviews allows peace of mind to buy with confidence. Flicx UK have celebrated a ten-year relationship as a supplier to the Pepsi ICC European Development Programme and its thirty member countries throughout the continent.
Add in their affiliation as a business partner to Chance to Shine, the UK’s largest school sports initiative bringing cricket back to state schools and the Brackley-based business offers real credibility.
Play Anywhere…Down a Mine or up Everest!
Having touched on the high cost of maintaining a grass wicket and issues around large space requirements, surely it’s not as simply as putting down a mat and strapping on the pads?
Well, you’ll need is a flat, hard surface but matches have happily taken place on a Flicx pitch in the most extraordinary of places including up Mount Everest, down a coal mine and in the London Eye.
Well over 3,500 pitches worldwide have been installed from Iceland to China to Russia to right below the Eiffel tower in France!
Over to you…Plus, a major NatWest CricketForce Discount
If you’re interested in finding out more about the range, colours or performance of the 2G Flicx Pitch range, please email Gary Luke or you can reach him on 01295 816765.
Why not forward the link to this article to your club to discuss and have a think.
**This is a sponsored article – if the mood takes you, click to read our Cricket Yorkshire’s policy on sponsored content**