When it rains, the pitch becomes wet and unusable for sportsmen and women. It takes hours before the pitch dries up, which more often than not proves disastrous for a team or an individual sportsperson. But a new technology introduced in Pune is ensuring that sportspersons can get back on the pitch a mere half an hour after it rains.
The technology overcomes the shortcomings of international-standard cricket pitches. “The new technique of sub-surface drainage system soaks up every drop of water in a very short period of time, to allow the game to continue with a minimum interval of 30 minutes,” said Kiran Barve, a former cricketer and coach. Barve heads GB Associates, which has so far prepared four such cricket grounds, two of which are in Pune and are ready for playing minutes after a heavy shower.
“In the era of one-day and T20 matches, this technique plays an important role in helping players return to the pitch quickly after a heavy rainshower, and not stop playing, which was a regular occurrence earlier,” said Barve.
Preparing such grounds is a task in itself. The drainage system has been installed two-and-a-half-feet below the surface with an effective network of pipes, like a spider web. “These pipes are of made up of HDPE, which neither cracks nor breaks, even when a heavy roller is used for compacting,” said Barve, who picked up the skills in preparing the grounds with sub-surface drainage technology from Pandurang Salgaonkar, the famous curator. “It was Salgaonkar who was instrumental in preparing the Gahunje cricket stadium with the technology. And I picked up the skills while assisting him.”
These pipes are perforated with 10 to 15 mm bore covering 20 per cent area of the pipe from the upper side and are given two-and-a-half-feet slope towards the peripheral drainage outlet so that the accumulated water travels fast towards the peripheral outlet.
“To give proper effect for the drainage, the entire ground is layered for at least 6 inches to 8 inches with white silica to filter the rainwater more effectively and keep the surface of the ground dry. The entire ground is also layered with the same type of geofabric,” said Barve.
This forms the solid base for fast filtration. “By this, even heavy showers can’t stop the game,” he added.
For the lush green top, the surface is adequately strengthened with coco peat in proper percentage with dynamic feeder principle, basal fertilisation and organic material to give strength and a solid hold to the grass roots, which are to be planted with a 2 to 3 mm layer.
“This grass is planted by the dribbling method, so that it properly grows horizontally rather than vertically. A typical grass categorised as Selection 1 is used by expert curators. The area of wickets itself is prepared with the vision of different curators suiting the climate, type of game and geological conditions,” said Barve.
Jayant Kariya, a former cricketer, said, “Such types of grounds are mandatory, especially for cricket. This is because for four-five months, cricketers have nothing to do but sit idle. During this time, they can’t even hone their skills…”
So far, Barve has helped set up four grounds. “Two are outside Pune. The demand for setting up such grounds will catch up in the future. People are not aware of this now. Those who realise this are coming forward…” he said.
He has been selected by a company as an executer for an upcoming cricket ground outside Maharashtra, and one in Nepal.