Cricket is growing fast in Japan and Dhugal Bedingfield, Community Cricket Manager and National Head Coach at Japan Cricket Association (JCA), has lofty ambitions for its development including winning the World Cup!! On the domestic front, 2G Flicx Pitches have been helping the Japan Cricket Association (JCA), to resolve facility challenges for well over a decade with 3000 + players at all levels of the game frequently playing on a network of portable, roll out Flicx wickets.
Cricket in Japan is believed to date back to 1863 but in recent years the growth of cricket here has been driven by the local Japanese community. University Cricket Clubs began popping up in the late 1980s and they laid the foundation whilst over the last 15 years or so, there has been an influx of players from the countries including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the UK, which has inflated the playing numbers, especially in the senior men’s leagues.
One of the major challenges for Bedingfield and his 10 strong development team to embed cricket into Japanese society, has been getting access to enough grounds with suitable spaces to play. Many venues are multi-sport clubs so to utilise them for cricket some of the features of the Flicx Pitch are vital especially the need to roll out a temporary surface with no damage to the under surface itself.
In the most part Flicx Pitches in Japan are used on top of synthetic pitches, but they are also used on grass surfaces too. This has opened many more venues up for cricket and gives a true bounce and bit of turn. Players are happy playing on Flicx Pitches and they are part and parcel of the infrastructure in the country with over 10 Flicx Pitches located strategically nationwide indeed, Japan Cricket Association (JCA), have just ordered two more pitches; this time to convert a baseball stadium in Tokyo which will bring cricket to a more densely populated area for the first time.
In terms of their strategy, the JCA see’s 2G Flicx Pitches as a great steppingstone. Firstly, Bedingfield and his team find a space to play in a new area, then ask for a 2G Flicx Pitch to be rolled out. Generally, this reduces the barriers to entry at a new location. Once the player pool has been developed and school / club programmes established, then JCA will look to put in permanent concrete or turf wickets however some venues continue with Flicx Pitches especially as growing grass is typically not that easy in Asia and in some cases rolling on synthetic turf pitches continues to be the only option. Where venues progress to turf wickets, the Flicx Pitch is then relocated to another new venue and the cycle of growth continues.
The 2G Flicx Pitch is therefore has been key to the growth of cricket in Japan. It allows them to host a “proper game of cricket” and provide a realistic experience to a range of players right across the country with “cities of cricket” established. These cities typically have a population of around 100,000 and generally need some regeneration and investment. JCA therefore go in with junior participation programmes trying to build cricket into the curriculum of the local schools with three key strategic aims of …
• Enriching lives through cricket
• Building connections with communities
• Growing participation
Bedingfield want crickets to become a mainstream sport in Japan, so his community team focuses on delivering cricket in a fun and joyful way so that players continue to play and make their way into the club set up with a range of 40 over and T20 competitions now firmly established country wide and aspirations for 5 new cities of cricket and female only leagues such as the J-Bash.
Cricket in Japan is nothing without a Flicx Pitches, so Bedingfield agrees it’s been a really useful tool over the years and one which value continues to be appreciated by the passionate cricketing population.