Netherlands December 2, 2007

They used to play on grass

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.

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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