The Sussex cricket club embracing the rain – and reacting to climate change

Rain is so often a pain for cricketers – but one Sussex club are to use it to their advantage, while reacting to climate change and the likelihood of more hot summers to come that will affect their wicket.
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East Dean & Friston Cricket Club have launched an innovative project to harvest, store and recycle the winter rains to help irrigate the wicket during our increasingly hot and dry summers; helping to mitigate against the impact of climate change. They say the investment is further demonstration that the future of cricket in the idyllic Downland village is secure for the next generation of cricketers.

What started as a post-cricket-match ‘strategy conversation’ at the local Tiger Inn has now turned into a ground-breaking investment which will dramatically improve the quality of the new cricket wicket in East Dean.

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The drought of 2022 has damaged their new cricket wicket and they needed to protect their key asset in the face of likely future droughts brought on by climate change.

It was a hot summer at East Dean and Friston CC - and that affected the wicket | Picture: East Dean & Friston CCIt was a hot summer at East Dean and Friston CC - and that affected the wicket | Picture: East Dean & Friston CC
It was a hot summer at East Dean and Friston CC - and that affected the wicket | Picture: East Dean & Friston CC

Following a successful grant application to England and Wales Cricket Trust (EWCT) and with the generous further support from East Dean & Friston Parish Council and technical advice from Sussex Cricket Foundation, contractors have now started the equipment installation.

The project is to collect/harvest the rainwater falling on the pavilion roof for storage in an ‘above ground’ tank behind the pavilion prior to being piped to the wicket where a new fully automated system with pop up sprinkler heads around the square will minimise water usage and maintenance time from volunteers.

The project means the club will:

- Harvest and store 10,000 litres of rainwater from the cricket pavilion roof.

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- Reduce / eliminate the use of up to 30,000 litres of mains water per year.

- Help avoid drought restrictions by using harvested water throughout the season.

- Reduce their reliance on voluntary labour from members for watering the wicket.

Mark Pankhurst, 2nd XI Captain and Vice Chairman, commented: ‘We are so grateful for the support of England and Wales Cricket Trust, the Sussex Cricket Foundation and our local East Dean & Friston Parish Council for helping turn our dreams into reality.

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"We’re already investing thousands in professional grounds maintenance and now this automated wicket irrigation scheme will help us deliver the best playing surface possible.

"Our members range from the 5-11 year old Dynamos and All Stars, our Under 13s boys and girls and our 3 adult teams, all of whom used to getting requests to help water the wicket during the summer, now they can rest easy and best of all, I can switch on the sprinklers from the Tiger Inn!’

Neil Gamble, Director of club sponsors Brook Gamble Estate Agents, glowed: ‘This is why we are proud to be shirt sponsors of East Dean & Friston Cricket Club – I've been associated with the Club for over a decade and I’m keen to support their efforts to continue to make East Dean & Friston one of the most desirable places to live locally.”

East Dean & Friston CC are affiliated with Sussex CCC and is ClubMark registered with current “Safe hands” certification.