December 2, 2007


They used to play on grass

Martin Williamson

While many senior clubs outside the main cricket countries play on artificial wickets, few play on artificial outfields, but that might happen in the Netherlands.

A report on Cricket Europe suggests that Hoofdklasse club HBS Den Haag may be forced to do just that as a result of the local authorities wanting to lay artificial football pitches over the main cricket ground. If the work goes ahead, it is likely to be completed in time for the 2008 season. The club maintains that every step has been taken to ensure the outfield is not too bouncy and is not to hard on diving fielders.

Such outfields are allowed in lower leagues in the country, but it seems likely that there will be opposition to HBS Den Haag's proposal, although there are signs that the national board will back the scheme.

Such a situation occurred in England in the 1990s after artificial hockey pitches were laid on the outfield of a Surrey club. But it was deeply unpopular with players, mainly because even the best surface is hard on feet and bodies, and the club actually folded after a couple of years because members left to join sides with grass outfields.


Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Martin Williamson
Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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