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DIY Non-Turf Cricket Wicket Advice

"We are considering installing a new wicket. We have a practical team of volunteers and would like to explore installing it ourselves. Where can we obtain advice and suitable materials to do this?"

It is possible to install your own cricket wicket providing you follow accepted guidelines and use the correct materials.

When considering installing the hard porous stone (dynamic) base type, you should assess the existing ground conditions to ensure adequate construction. If the wicket is going on or at the side of an existing square that has been well rolled, is level, and well drained, a minimal base comprising only of 50mm of hard porous aggregate laid over a geotextile may be sufficient. If the new wicket is being located on a playing field that has not had much rolling in the past, is poorly drained, newly established, or has some unevenness you should consider an increased base specification incorporating at least 100mm of clean stone to form a raft below the 50mm hard porous aggregate layer. Treated timber edging boards can also be incorporated to provide a secure edge fixing for the cricket playing surface as well as helping when setting up levels.

The key to this type of installation is having an accurate excavation and uniform depth of hard porous aggregate. This aggregate must also be of the correct type and be graded to a specification so that the ratio of sizes of stone in the blend binds hard when rolled. This layer governs the playing characteristics of the cricket wicket and if it is deficient the wicket will not play properly. The bounce will be inconsistent or in the worst case, non-existent.

With concrete bases, the surface finish to the new slab is most important. The concrete needs to be tamped level and then floated to produce a smooth uniform surface which is critical for consistent play. The concrete needs to be a hard grade with increased cement content such as ST4 grade ready mix. If the playing surface is to be edge fixed, treated timber shuttering boards can be used and left in place to pin the playing surface into. If a stuck down surface is being installed the concrete needs to be left 4-6 weeks to dry out otherwise the adhesive may peel off the concrete.

"Woven and tufted playing surfaces look similar, but what is the difference?"

On a woven (known as Wilton) playing surface the polypropylene fibres making up the pile are "locked" into the backing (warp and weft fibres) by the weaving process making the product very strong and stable. The product is fully porous.

Although tufted cricket surfaces look superficially similar, the pile fibres are punched through a prefabricated cloth backing and then "glued" in place by an adhesive applied to the reverse side of the backing cloth. Tufted surfaces are generally much lighter grade compared to woven surfaces. The glued in pile can wear or be pulled out of the backing quite quickly in high wear areas such as the batting and bowling creases. The adhesive holding the tufts seals the backing cloth so these products are only porous through factory made drainage holes punched at regular intervals.

Wilton woven products are slow and expensive to manufacture whereas tufted products are more highly mechanised and much more cheaply made. This is reflected in the price but also in the quality and life expectancy.

Tip: Look for cricket surfaces that carry a conditional 5 year guarantee against manufacturing defects.