Bacton Cricket Club given 'hard ball' ban by council

Bacton Cricket Club Bacton Cricket Club has played on the Cubitt Memorial Playing Field for more than 30 years

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A cricket club has been barred from its home of 36 years after refusing to agree to a ban on hard balls being used during batting practice on the pitch.

Bacton Cricket Club, which has played village cricket in Norfolk since 1934, was hit by new parish council rules published last month.

Club chairman David Gale said the rule was "untenable" and talks were in place to move the team to North Walsham.

Bacton Parish Council said the rules were enforced to "protect the public".

Start Quote

We are a cricket team - how are we supposed to practice without cricket balls? Are they expecting us to use tennis balls instead?”

End Quote David Gale Bacton CC chairman

The council said the club had been banned from the Cubitt Memorial Playing Field for failing to agree to the new set of rules.

The ban could be made permanent if the club fails to sign the agreement within two months.

The move has led to the club playing all of its Norfolk Cricket League Division Six matches at away grounds.

'Upsetting'

Council clerk Elaine Pugh said there had been a couple of recent "near misses" in which other people on the field had almost been hit by cricket balls.

Playing field rules

Cricket ball hitting stumps
  • Batting or bowling practice with a cricket ball or other solid or semi-solid practice ball must only take place inside the batting cage [nets]. Under no circumstances may this take place elsewhere
  • No cycling is permitted except by children aged eight or under
  • Golf shall not be played on the playing field
  • No dogs (except trained guide or assistance dogs) shall be allowed on the playing field
  • Vehicles may not be brought on to the playing field without the permission of the council

She said the rule was included in a complete set of new ground regulations to satisfy insurers' demands and protect people at the nearby bowls club, children on the play area and young people who also used the facilities during the week.

Mr Gale said: "We are a cricket team - how are we supposed to practice without cricket balls? Are they expecting us to use tennis balls instead?

"It's upsetting - I've spent 10 summers nurturing the cricket square and you can really bat on it.

"The rules are untenable."

He said it was common for batsmen and bowlers at any club to practise outside of the nets, adding that the nets at the ground were of a poor quality.

Mrs Pugh said as well as failing to sign the new rules, many other issues had also been raised with the club - including a mobile scoring hut being used without permission and individuals being "aggressive" at council meetings.

She said: "It's not a done and dusted deal. They can come and sit at the table and be polite and we can go forward from there."

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