The most beautiful ground in the Netherlands
VRA has three grounds in the Amsterdamse Bos. The main ground, in a very picturesque setting, has arguably been the best playing field in the Netherlands for years and has achieved an A-status. After many broadcasts of its international cricket matches on television and internet, ‘the ground with the tree’ now enjoys international fame.
In 1994, in collaboration with the KNCB and the City of Amsterdam, the first grass pitch on the European mainland was established on the VRA grounds. A daring experiment, considering the long-prevailing view that a good grass pitch would be impossible to achieve on Dutch soil, even before considering the practical obstacles involving specialist equipment and the need for daily upkeep by an experienced groundsman.
In 1994 a square with five pitches was laid between the two hockey fields facing the clubhouse. The intention was for hockey to still be played there in the winter season, but this didn’t turn out to be practicable. One hockey field was sacrificed and the square is now reserved for cricket.
In 1997 the score box with an electronic scoreboard was built, and since then the VRA ground has gained NOC-NSF accreditation as an A-status location for international matches in the Netherlands.
In 2005 the square was renewed and expanded to 10 pitches. The beloved outfield was also renovated and furnished with a state-of-the-art drainage system. This makes the ground able to withstand the heavy rainstorms that the Netherlands unfortunately has to contend with. A second electronic scoreboard was added and inaugurated during the Netherlands – Sri Lanka ODI in 2006, during which Sri Lanka set the current standing world record of 443 runs in a 50-over One Day International. Today more than 25 ODIs have been played at VRA, and many of these have been broadcast globally by BBC, Sky Sports, ESPN and ICC Cricket.
A few years ago the ABN AMRO International Cricket Centre was established at the VRA sports complex, now also including 10 practice grass pitches. In 2012 an underground and fully invisible irrigation system was installed, so that the grass is now always, also during periods of drought, greener at VRA.
Maintenance of the grounds and of the grass square requires an enormous investment of time and manpower, as well as specialist equipment and material. The full range of machinery currently consists of a hydraulic heavy roller, a lighter roller, a hand-pushed roller, a 5-cage mower, 4 different lawnmowers, 2 scarifiers, an electric hose reel cart, a tractor, a trailer, 1 golf cart and numerous smaller machines and specialist tools. To keep the square dry, six 10-metre mobile covers and a great number of large tarpaulins are needed.
Further inventory includes a score box and two electronic scoreboards, storage sheds, and mobile screens. Each year, 3,000 kg of special clay and 100 kg of grass seed is imported from England to maintain the grass wickets. The cost of lease and maintenance of the grounds easily adds up to €100,000 annually.
All work on the grounds takes place under the supervision of our groundsman Paul Polak, who has the highest qualifications and more than twenty years of experience. It is partly thanks to his efforts and expertise that the VRA ground in the beautiful Amsterdamse Bos has acquired such a wonderful reputation and is internationally famed for its fast outfield, excellent drainage and reliable pitches.