Sidmouth Cricket Club get NatWest CricketForce Day running earlier than most.

PUBLISHED: 08:33 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 08:35 21 March 2014

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Sidmouth Cricket Club is jumping the gun to get its facilities in shape for the forthcoming season, writes John Goodwin.

Werrington and De Montfort University are scheduled to be playing at the Fortfield on April 5 and 6 respectively, which are the designated days for clubs across the country to participate in NatWest CricketForce and get their grounds fit for action.

These early matches have necessitated Sidmouth allocating Saturday, March 29, as its NatWest CricketForce day. Even that early members will have to beware of flying cricket balls because Devon County Cricket Club is hoping to use the ground for its first outdoor practice session of the season on grass.

Groundsman Colin Whitehall said: “If the weather allows, this will be the earliest I have prepared pitches for. The dry spell in the middle of the month gave us a chance of getting the square and outfield ready but before then the ground was so wet it was impossible to get machinery on.”

Players and supporters have a number of painting tasks to undertake on the premature NatWest CricketForce day.

House and ground chairman John Goodwin said: “The timber clad pavilion and machine shed can never have too much preservative applied and the paintwork on window frames has suffered under the winter deluges.

“Cracks in the scorebox masonry need filling before a coat of paint is put on and the sightscreens need their annual spruce up.

“There’s also the synthetic turf practice net area to tidy up. Hopefully, we will have a good turn-out of players and supporters to get these tasks completed.”

If the weather holds, Sidmouth will have four weekends of warm-up games before the Francis Clark Devon Premier League season opens on May 3 with a visit to Bovey Tracey.

The Fortfield cricket programme is augmented by some prestigious representative matches. The Minor Counties champions, Cheshire, are hosted by Devon for a three-day match from July 6 to 8. Later that month the Minor Counties representative side meets Somerset II on July 24 and the following day MCC visit to play the Minor Counties Cricket Association. On May 11 Devon have a one-day match against Dorset.

Sidmouth has also been chosen to stage the area Twenty/20 finals on Sunday, August 10, with the representatives of four South West ECB premier leagues taking part.

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