[lead]The ECB hopes to increase the amount of cricket played in Bristol after spending more than £40,000 on five new non-turf pitches.[/lead]
The five artificial wickets have been installed at four sites across the city for use by community groups, casual players and existing teams.
The wickets at Blaise Castle (2), Dundridge Park, Eastville Park and Oldbury Court will be officially opened by players from Gloucestershire Cricket on April 2 as part of the Bristol European City of Sport celebrations.
Gloucestershire Cricket Board (GCB) clubs and programmes officer John Peplow said: “
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The idea is to encourage more people to play cricket, both formally and informally.
“We know that the time, effort, cost and availability of finding a properly maintained grass wicket is one of the things that limits people’s opportunity to play so we hope that by installing these pitches we can get people involved who might not otherwise have had the chance.”
The focus on trying to increase the amount of casual cricket being played is a key part of the ECB’s new Cricket Unleashed strategy – the organisations blueprint for the future of the game. Along with Sheffield, Bristol is one of only two cities chosen by the ECB for the non-turf wicket pilot scheme.
As part of the project the ECB has also funded £9000 of cricket equipment which will be made available to community groups who want to make use of the pitches. The new facilities can be booked by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The pitches at Oldbury Court and Blaise Castle Estate are on existing cricket grounds and are the only sites where a hardball can be used. The Pakistani Express cricket team are already lined-up to make use of the new pitch at Oldbury Court Estate. All the non-turf pitches will be made available to clubs looking to start a junior section but who don’t have their own ground. All the sites will be available to book online but if they are free people will also be to turn up and play.
John said: “There are a whole range of possibilities for these pitches from cricket clubs to community groups and schools. The quality of artificial wickets has improved hugely over the years and it means that these parks have a top class facility that will allow people to have a really positive experience of the game.”