Ground Name: Sano 1, Sano 2, Sano 3, Sano 4
Location: Sano Shi, Funatsugawacho 2-8-1 ( This is the address of a property just the other side of the embankment) The pitch itself is at 36°16′ 09.80″N 139°34′ 43.73″E
Nearest Station: JR Tatebayashi Station. However, players often drive up from Tokyo and Chiba.
Access: By Taxi, about a 20 min ride – cost approx ￥3000 – not cheap.
Meeting Point: Kita Senju or Tatebayashi station
Sano 1 – Probably the Sano ground with the most character, it is the Sharks favourite ground as it was here that the 2010 JCL1 Championship was claimed. The pitch is made of plastic carpet and is in pretty good condition and plays true with few, if any, demons. It is unwise to bowl too short here as the ball can sit up invitingly and spinners should not expect to find excessive turn here either. After rain, the pitch drains quickly but the outfield is rather sluggish. After fine weather though the whole ground bakes solid and the outfield is quick and even byes can easily go for 4 down towards the River End. The ground is also used for baseball and in the deeper outfield care needs to be taken when fielding near the numerous bumps and mounds that are present. [Anton]
Sano 2 – Just up the track is the newer and better appointed Sano 2 ground. It is also a carpet pitch but, being newer and in better condition, plays even truer than Sano 1. The straight boundaries are very short though and a lot of runs can be accumulated with forceful shots down the wicket. Unsurprisingly, long off and long on see a fair amount of action and it is wise to set the team’s best catchers of the ball in these positions.
The outfield is on the slowish side due to the thickness of the grass and clover that cover it, especially if there is any moisture lying around. The ground has a history of quite poor drainage so matches can often be cancelled or moved to Sano 1 after wet spells.
Sano 3 – A little bit further up from Sano 2 is its twin sister Sano 3. A newer pitch by about 2 years, it is in the best condition. The pace has fallen off the pitch quickly though and anything bowled short will be punished. The pitch may have sunk a touch into the soft ground towards the river meaning the ball does not come through to the bat quite so fluidly anymore, especially at the uphill embankment end, so Sano 3 games tend to see a lot of catches. The straight boundaries are very short and square boundaries quite long. Well hit shots towards the river have been known to swim away. After a bit of rain however, the grass can shoot up a few centimetres and the outfield stays a bit boggy meaning fours are rarer than hens teeth. 350 is decent dry pitch score while on a damp track 250 will normally get you over the line. [Anton]
Sano 4 – Next door to Sano 3 is an identical carpet pitch normally surrounded by nets as it’s prime function seems to be a practice pitch. However there is a lot more fire in this track, particularly down at the river end where the odd ball can really rear up off a good length. It’s not unwise to practice in full protective gear. Other than that, it’s the same as Sano 3; Short straight boundaries and an outfield goverened by the whims of the lawnmower man.[Anton]
Facilities: Sano is a tale of three worlds. At Sano 2 there is a Portaloo with a sink and running water although I doubt if it is safe to drink. There is also some shade provided by metal shelters with seating at Sano 2. At Sano 1 there is a tree, nothing else. At Sanos 3 and 4 there isn’t evena tree. Supplies should be purchased beforehand at the convenience store by the station. The station kiosk also sells packets of “Sano Ramen” – an ideal souvenir of the area.
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