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An English village cricket club's plight

The National staff  |  June 19, 2013

Village cricket games such as these are the bedrock for the sport in England. Photo courtesy David Nixon
Village cricket games such as these are the bedrock for the sport in England. Photo courtesy David Nixon

A cricket team has had to leave the English village it has played in since 1934 and will be forced to change its name – because local officials have ordered them to stop using proper cricket balls in practice.

Bacton Cricket Club play in the village in the county of Norfolk, but its parish council says that the restrictions are necessary due to health and safety rules to prevent passers-by from being hit or injured by stray balls.

Nobody has actually been hurt by a ball at the pitch so far.

When the club refused to comply with the rules enforced upon them they were then banned from the village’s pitch.

“We are a cricket team – how are we supposed to practise without cricket balls? Are they expecting us to use tennis balls instead?” club chairman David Gale said in The Daily Telegraph.

“It’s upsetting – I’ve spent 10 summers nurturing the cricket square and you can really bat on it. The rules are untenable.”

Gale added that the team, who play in Norfolk Cricket League Division Six, will move to a new base five miles away, and be renamed as North Walsham Cricket Club, the town’s high school team that folded up two decades ago.

Elaine Pugh, a council clerk, told The Daily Telegraph: “It was something we had to bring in because a couple of people had near misses with balls. Would you like your child being hit by a cricket ball?”

The rules mean that proper cricket balls can only be used for practice inside the nets and not on the fields.

Hard cricket balls were still permitted for matches.