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Getting your bearings

Posted in Facilties and Funding

The role of the path of the sun cannot be underestimated in our country, whether you are playing in a match, spectating or practicing off the field.

Whether at grassroots or First Class level, cricket wickets in England are traditionally laid in a North-South direction to minimise the impact of the sun upon bowler or batsman as it sets in the west.

Only three of the First Class county grounds buck this trend and run from east to west – Old Trafford, the County Ground in Derby and, to some degree, Lord's.

The height of the stands at Lord's and its east-north-east to west-south-west orientation means that it is less affected than the other two grounds, both of which are planned to be re-orientated.

You can understand why Lancashire and Derbyshire are going to the trouble and expense to resolve this once and for all when play is stopped due to the setting sun.

In a grassroots club environment the consideration of orientation is just as important, if not more so. In particular, the pavilion is more likely to be affected by the issue of orientation as it will not usually have the scale to be located behind the bowler's arm and will therefore pay more attention to the path of the sun.

On a level site a single storey pavilion is best placed in the north east corner of the ground as this will allow a good view of the game without interfering with sight screens and offer the best use of the sun for light and heat.

With the ongoing concerns about energy usage and the ever increasing tariffs for all forms of power, simply placing your pavilion in the right place can be the best way to cut your future bills.

Obviously the wicket in a new ground construction should be constructed as close to north-south as possible, but the placement of practice facilities often overlooks orientation as clubs seek to find a convenient piece of land.

Locating your off field practice on a north-south axis is essential as most usage will occur on midweek evenings when the sun is setting. Orientation in practice facilities is a significant issue as no-one wants to be squinting into the sun as the bowler strides to the crease or alternatively be unable to pick out a ball that the batter has smashed straight back.

My final word of advice is to take a compass with you when surveying your site before any kind of facility development. If anyone looks at you strangely, just point them in the direction of this blog.

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