BUDDING cricketers across Worcester will be able to try out the sport free of charge as the city’s first public cricket wicket is set to open.
Worcester City Council plans to install the £9,000 synthetic wicket at the King George V Playing Fields this week, meaning it will be open for the latter half of the cricket season, which runs until late September.
The synthetic wicket, approved by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), is surfaced with an artificial woven cricket carpet that is free draining, spike-resistant and responsive to spin and seam bowling.
Cricket has grown in popularity since the England cricket team’s World Cup success in 2019 and it is hoped the new venue will encourage more young people and women to take up the sport.
Hundreds of Worcester children already attend the ‘Inspiring Generations project.’
The All Stars Cricket programme was established in 2017 to teach basic skills to five-to-eight-year-olds, who then can progress to Dynamos Cricket, which teaches children how to play using a soft ball, ready for transition to traditional hard ball cricket.
Another format of the game is tape ball which is a tennis ball that has been modified to give it greater weight, speed and distance while still being easier to play with than the conventional cricket ball.
The demand for these shorter versions of the game has increased and traditional local cricket clubs are not able to cater for all these formats, meaning that some recreational cricketers have been unable to afford to play, due to the membership costs of joining a cricket club.
The public wicket was the idea of Coun Jabba Riaz. A keen cricketer himself, he is ‘bowled over’ with the news the new wicket is about to be installed.
He said: “I’m delighted to see this project get underway and I’m hoping it sets the ball rolling for even more free cricket facilities across the city. Football has long been an accessible sport and with cricket’s popularity rising, it would be fantastic to see more young people and more women being able to engage with the sport.”
The artificial pitch installation will also generate a small income for the council as bookings for organised matches would be required – it is planned to use this income for pitch maintenance.