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Sodden pitches force season delay for cricket clubs

Image caption, Many cricket grounds are too sodden to play on, meaning the start of the season has been delayed

  • Author, Laura May McMullan
  • Role, BBC Midlands Today

Play has failed to get under way for many grassroots cricket clubs because the start of the season has been delayed by the wet weather.

Matches were due to begin this weekend, but will now not start for a fortnight because many grounds are sodden and unplayable, officials say.

It follows 30% more rainfall than average in March, and the wettest 18 months on record.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said climate change has had a significant impact, and a recent study showed more than a third of recreational cricket clubs were at risk of flooding.

Hem Heath Cricket Club is one, where chair Dean Hodson said in his 22 years at the club the weather has never forced a delay to the start of a season.

Players were keen to build on the momentum of being crowned premier division champions last year, in the North Staffs and South Cheshire League, for which the season has been delayed until 4 May.

‘Water table high’

“You try and prepare – cut the outfield, cut the square, get things down – the next day it’s rain and you’re back to square one again,” said Mr Hodson.

Despite being elevated and having “natural drainage”, the ground at Kidsgrove Cricket Club is also impossible to play on and the club has been unable to put heavy machinery onto the grass to maintain the pitch.

Facilities manager Simon Beckett, said: “The problem is the drainage and the high water table, because we’ve had so much water it’s just not able to drain at all.

“We’re not able to cut the actual grass properly, we’re not able to roll the square, we can’t cut the outfield for fear of the mower sinking in it, it’s that wet in places.”

Committee member Blaine Hughes said players and supporters of the club were disappointed.

“You’ve gone through five or six months, waiting for the season to start, but I think it is the right decision.

“You know there’s not going to be a lot of cricket for the next few weeks.”

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