The start of a new cricket season here in the UK signals the end of a frantic period of activity for Keighley-based JMS cricket, but the demand for their advice and comprehensive range of hi-tech, high quality cricket products goes far beyond the confines of these shores and include countries such as Mexico, Peru, Hungary, Bahrain and Malaysia - places that the general public are unlikely to immediately associate with this most English of sporting pursuits!
Best known for their state-of-the-art pitch protection products, JMS has forged strong links with the emerging cricket countries because they can appreciate the value of the 20 years of experience in all aspects of cricket groundsmanship that the company has to offer. This experience starts, literally, from grass roots level and takes in every aspect of what is required to provide the kind of playing and practice facilities that will attract and develop good cricketers - from grass seed to a comprehensive range of cricket hardware and a range of bats, pads and gloves.
JMS has continued to strengthen its relationship with several European Cricket Council member countries. Further work has been carried out in Dublin and Cork and Stormont has taken delivery of a Pitch Protector System to ensure that Friends Provident matches go ahead as planned. In Scotland JMS have supplied both Aberdeenshire CC and The Grange with additional net facilities to complement their existing JMS covering systems. Additional work in Guernsey and Holland is planned and orders have been taken from the cricket authorities in Hungary.
JMS's advice has also been sought by The Barbados Cricket Association about covering options at the Kensington Oval and at the University of the West Indies. Both the Bermuda Cricket Association and the Grand Cayman Cricket Association have recently placed orders and enquiries have been received from South America following the recent ICC Group 4 tournament.
Managing Director Jonathan Smith has been a groundsman at international venues for cricket, rugby and football and the company has an on-going working relationship with most of the groundsmen of the County Cricket Clubs. This provides constant feedback to enable the company to develop and refine products that make use of the latest hi-tech materials for greater efficiency and to make them quicker and easier to deploy.
"Earlier this year we were asked by Derbyshire CCC to provide a cover system to enable them to turn around their square from East/West to a North/South direction. So we created two huge sheets, both 5,000 sq.ft. to protect the area from the elements whilst they completed the task. Nottinghamshire CCC and Sussex CCC are also long term customers.
The acquisition of a new 10,000 sq.ft. premises at its Keighley HQ has allowed JMS to offer a unique experience to their customers - indoor nets which provide the opportunity for visitors to trial the characteristics of a range of new artificial surfaces and pitch constructions. They can experience at first hand the different characteristics of artificial wickets of concrete or aggregate construction and surfaces of either woven or needlepunch carpet.
With the cost of artificial pitches spiralling, JMS can provide visitors with a first hand demonstration of the relative merits of different combinations - all under one roof. This facility ensures customers can select the right pitch for their needs and JMS has a network of installers across the UK to lay them.
Jonathan is passionate about the game and the role of the cricket groundsman in maintaining its appeal and its ability to attract young talent.
He is worried that not enough attention is being paid to giving the new breed of groundsmen the experience and knowledge required to produce good cricket squares and outfields.
"Although they may be separated by vast oceans most cricket groundsmen share the same desire to produce a cricket square, outfield and practice facilities to enable their players to perform to the best of their ability. It is a myth that you can produce fine cricketers from sub standard cricket grounds and cricket squares.
"Unfortunately there are some exceptions which grab the headlines. Just witness the recent farce we had in Antigua when the Test Match at The Sir Vivian Richards stadium had to be abandoned because of the dreadful condition of the outfield. At a time when the game needs to attract all the talented youngsters it can in the face of fierce competition from other sporting and leisure pursuits, it can ill afford to be the object of ridicule".
Image 1: Jonathan Smith
Image 2: Mobile cover