Cricket is growing fast in Japan and Dhugal Bedingfield, Community Cricket Manager and National Head Coach at Japan Cricket Association (JCA), has many 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 used to playing on portable, roll out wickets.
Cricket in Japan is believed to date back to 1863 but in recent years immigrants and ex pats as well as Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistani communities have been driving the game forward alongside a passionate 10 strong, development JCA team. The first cricket club, the Yokohama Cricket Club (currently the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club) was founded in 1868 by a Scottish tea merchant named JP Mollison who had previously lived in Shanghai and played cricket there as well. One of the major challenges for embedding 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, 2G Flicx Pitches are 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 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 “sunos” typically have a population of around 100,000 and generally need some regeneration. JCA therefore go in with junior participation programmes trying to build cricket into the curriculum of the local schools with three key strategic aim 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 useful tool over the years and one which value continues to be realised year after year.